An effort to raise Coeur d’Alene’s local minimum wage led by a former Democratic legislative candidate is dead for 2015, City Clerk Renata McCleod confirmed.
The effort, part of the progressive movement’s push for so-called income equality, died after Democrat Anne Nesse failed to submit the required signatures by the April 30 deadline.
“They have missed that deadline,” McClead told IdahoReporter.com Monday.
Nesse’s plan would have hiked the local wage to $10.25 an hour through a two-year process. After that, local wage hikes would be indexed to the consumer price index.
Raising wages at the city level would likely have been in vain anyway, or so warned a Coeur d’Alene city attorney in an April 20 letter.
After examining Nesse’s initiative language, Deputy City Attorney Warren Wilson warned raising the wage through ordinance would conflict with state law, which trumps city rules and regulations.
“Reviewing the initiative it appears that there is not a direct grant of authority to the city to regulate the minimum wage and that if there is implied authority to regulate the minimum wage, that the initiative is likely in conflict with I.C. 44-1502(1), which requires the minimum wage in Idaho to ‘conform to and track with’ the federal minimum wage,” Wilson wrote in an April 20 letter to McCleod.
In short, a local minimum wage is likely a violation of state law.
“Neither the Idaho Constitution nor the Idaho Code contains a direct grant of authority to municipalities to regulate the minimum wage within their boundaries,” Wilson explained.
The city might have power to regulate local wages were it not for the state law, the city attorney added. If backers had successfully pushed the initiative through the process, Wilson warned the city could be open to a legal challenge.
“As such, a court presented with this state law of general application would likely find the initiative invalid for conflicting with state law,” Wilson wrote.
Nesse, who failed in 2013 to complete a statewide initiative, did not respond to an IdahoReporter.com email for comment. In a social media post earlier this month, she said she might consider forwarding a nonbinding advisory vote sometime in the future.
Progressives and Democrats have failed to persuade the Republican-controlled Idaho Legislature to consider raising wages statewide. Democratic Rep. Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, introduced a plan to hike state wages earlier this year, but the issue went no further.