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Haslam Will Sign Ban on Local Wage-and-Benefits Mandates

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said Monday that he plans to put his signature on the “Tennessee Wage Protection Act,” a piece of legislation that would stop municipalities from setting their own minimum and prevailing wage requirements on businesses.

The issue posed a bit of an ideological conundrum for the Republican governor by forcing him to choose between preserving local control and pushing a business-friendly agenda. Haslam said trying to maintaining a consistent, hospitable business climate across Tennessee took precedence in this instance.

“I do intend to sign that,” Haslam said of the measure. “It’s a very fine line for me. I think the argument of the bill sponsor was that there’s implications beyond just that municipality that should be taken into consideration, like I said, and in this case I do intend to sign it.”

House Bill 501, carried by GOP Caucus Chairman Glen Casada, is primarily aimed at Nashville and Shelby County, both of which have stricter rules than the state regarding wages, family leave and insurance benefits for companies that operate in those jurisdictions or pursue local government contracts.

During floor debate on the bill last month, Casada argued that making companies in certain municipalities pay their workers higher wages for things like road construction would drive up the cost of similar work statewide. While local control remains a popular theme amongst Republicans in the General Assembly, the Franklin lawmaker said that, in this case, “these are issues best left up to the state and federal governments, not local government.”

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