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McCall minimum wage: An exercise in futility

McCall minimum wage: An exercise in futility

Dustin Hurst
October 27, 2015
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October 27, 2015

McCall voters head to the polls Tuesday to decide the minimum wage issue’s fate, but the whole deal may not mean much in the end.

Sure, raising the minimum wage might feel good for a short while, but regret will come shortly after choosing that route.

The Raise the Wage crowd, led by a former Occupy Boise leader, doesn’t grasp an inconvenient problem: localities likely don’t have the power to set their own wages.

That’s not my opinion. That’s the suggestion from Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane, who wrote on the topic earlier this year. “Given the regulatory specificity in the state statute, one can infer that the Legislature intended to occupy the field,” Kane told state lawmakers.

A Coeur d’Alene city attorney echoed Kane’s sentiment in his own letter on the topic when an activist in his town suggested raising the local wage.

Traveling down this path would likely open the city to expensive lawsuits and waste time and money for taxpayers. That’s not wise.

Besides the matter’s legality, the city will struggle to enforce the measure should it pass. Metropolitan areas already on this route have various tools to squeeze and punish businesses who don’t comply. McCall, a tiny resort town in the middle of Idaho, lacks such enforcement mechanisms.

The mayor can’t provide a clear answer how the city will ensure employers pay the higher wages.

“As far as I know there has never been an enforcement issue for the current minimum wage,” Jackie Aymon said. “If the voters approve the increase in minimum wage, it is likely employers will step up. McCall is a community of good, hardworking and honest people who get things done.”

Or, in short:  ¯¯_(ツ)_/¯¯

This proposal, while well-intentioned, lacks serious depth and could open the door to serious issues for McCall and its taxpayers. Voters must closely and clearly examine these problems before heading to the polls.

Note: Photo credit here. 

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