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House Republicans block minimum-wage ballot question

February 17, 2015

Hoosier voters won’t have the opportunity to participate in a non-binding referendum on raising the minimum wage as most states have done.

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have increased the minimum wage above the federal standard of $7.25 an hour, but the issue is a non-starter in the Indiana General Assembly. Two Senate measures to increase the minimum wage sponsored by Democrats will not be heard in the Senate Pensions & Labor Committee, said Chairman Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville.

Monday, House Republicans blocked an amendment by Rep. John Bartlett, D-Indianapolis, that would have placed the question of whether Hoosiers support raising the minimum wage on the ballot. Bartlett sought to amend House Bill 1303, a measure dealing with professional certifications. Democrats have vowed to force the issue with floor amendments because bills are bottled up in committee.

In a statement, Bartlett said none of the 71 House Republicans voted to amend the bill to place the measure on the ballot. He said it’s the second straight year the proposal has been blocked. He said the referendum only would have the effect of giving lawmakers an idea of the mood of Hoosiers on the matter.

Bartlett said average household income in Indiana has declined from $53,482 a decade ago to $46,974 in 2013. During that time, he said, household incomes in 47 other states grew faster than those in Indiana.

“This is a serious public policy issue that deals with the lives of so many people in this state,” Bartlett said. “It remains a disappointment that we cannot get the House supermajority to even try to get a sense of the public’s feelings on a minimum wage hike. Perhaps they are afraid of what the people might say, because it might compel them to have to give some kind of tax relief to those who don’t occupy the boardrooms of our largest corporations.”
 
 

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