A House bill applauded for its attempt to make equal pay a state law is facing some criticism for its other impacts on iMississippi communities. MPB's Desare Frazier reports.
Supporters of equal pay for equal work expressed disappointment after bills failed to make it out of committees by the January 30th deadline. The issue was revived when the House passed an employment bill with an equal pay amendment attached. Republican Mark Baker of Brandon authored the employment bill. He says its designed to prevent municipalities from setting their own minimum wage and benefit requirements for private employers.
"A lot of cities around the country are adopting their own minimum wage laws or impose their own ordinances on the relationship between private employer and private employee and our position is cities and counties should not get in that business," said Baker.
Baker says its important the minimum wage is consistent statewide to help companies remain competitive. Some House lawmakers support equal pay but voted against HB 1241 anyway. Democrat Christopher Bell of Jackson doesn't think the state should keep local governments from setting higher wages.
"It's nothing wrong with having consistency statewide. We want to make sure it's right and fair for those individuals. I don't think we should be in the business of telling people what they should pay their employees," said Bell.
House Democrat Alyce Clarke of Jackson originally introduced the equal pay amendment. Baker made a revised amendment that includes equal pay and assured Clarke it didn't weaken the intent of the provision.