BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
LEE COUNTY – The Lee County Board of Supervisors will be holding two public discussions on Tuesday before casting the final vote on increasing the minimum wage in Lee County to $8.20.
The current wage of $7.25 has been under assault by the Raise the Wage Committee for more than six months. The group put an ordinance in front of the board three weeks ago. Board Chair Rick Larkin pulled a vote on the county ordinance on March 7 saying he hadn’t heard a report from the committee and wasn’t going to put it up for a vote without discussion.
On March 14 and 21 the board voted 4-1 to advance the ordinance, which needs three approvals on three readings.
On Tuesday, the board will have meetings at the Newberry Center Senior Center at 9 a.m. in Fort Madison and at 1 p.m. Heritage Senior Center in Keokuk. The board will be holding public hearings to renew the lease agreements with both senior groups before holding discussions on the minimum wage. The final reading of the ordinance will be held after discussions at the Heritage Senior Center in Keokuk.
Supervisor Ron Fedler has cast the only dissenting vote on the issue saying the wage should be set by the federal or state government and not locally because it’s not enforceable across the county. Proponents of the measure say there’s hypocrisy in that mentality because the state setting a wage different than the federal wage is no different than allowing counties to set a different wage than the state.
If the measure is passed Tuesday it will not be effective until May 1, 33 days from now. A current bill, House File 295, is moving its way to a full Senate debate and, if approved, would negate any county minimum wage increases and reset the wage to $7.25. The bill was passed out of the State Government Committee of the Senate on Wednesday before noon.