Democrats in the Tennessee House of Representatives have indicated that during the legislative session this year they’ll advocate establishing a state minimum wage .
But they won’t get very far without support from Republicans, and that doesn’t appear forthcoming.
Tennessee House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick last week told TNReport he sees little likelihood the GOP supermajority will agree to impose a state-level wage mandate exceeding the $7.25 federal wage floor.
Tennessee and four other states, including Mississippi, South Carolina and Alabama, don’t actually have a state minimum wage, and therefore employers are required to pay employees in keeping with federal regulations.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 21 states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage. The rest of the states have minimum wage requirements that match the federal government, are lower or don’t have minimum wage laws codified in state law.
McCormick said establishing a minimum wage that’s higher than the federal government’s could potentially give Tennessee’s neighbors a competitive advantage. “I think all that will do encourage people in surrounding states to hire employees instead of doing it in Tennessee,” he said.
Of Tennessee’s eight neighboring states, only Missouri, at $7.50 an hour, has a higher minimum wage than the federal mandate.
McCormick, a Chattanooga Republican, said any bills introduced to establish a minimum wage will be done “for political reasons” by Democrats looking to try and score election-year points.
“When they ran the state for 100 years they never raised the minimum wage over the federal minimum wage,” said McCormick. “So I think it is a political tactic on their part and I suspect it will not be successful.”
President Obama and national Democrats have been pushing to raise the federal minimum wage. At least a dozen states will likely be considering minimum wage boosts this year as well, either through their legislatures or on ballot questions. A USAToday story back in November suggested Democrats around the country will be looking to use the minimum wage issue to draw voters to the polls in 2014.