Carroll's legislators undecided on Iowa minimum wage hike
Muhlbauer says he'd vote consensus of district or 'flip a coin'
Sunday, March 02, 2014 6:00 PM
West-central Iowans looking for a fight with their state legislators on a proposed minimum-wage increase won't get one - at least not now.
State Rep. Dan Muhlbauer, D-Manilla, talked about the minumum wage and other issues Saturday during a Carroll Chamber of Commerce legislative forum at Des Moines Area Community College.
Two of Iowa's border states have minimum wages above the $7.25-an-hour federally mandated rate. In Illinois it is $8.25 an hour, and in Missouri the minimum wage is $7.50 an hour.
State Rep. Dan Muhlbauer, D-Manilla, and State Sen. Mark Segebart, R-Vail, said Saturday they're still considering any increase to the minimum wage even as the issue gains profile, if not traction, in Des Moines and Washington, D.C.
"I haven't picked a side yet," Segebart said. "I'm still open for discussion."
Muhlbauer said he's in the same spot.
"I can see both sides so flip a coin," Muhlbauer said.
The wage increase plan emerged as one of the issues at a Carroll Chamber of Commerce legislative forum attended by about 30 people Saturday at Des Moines Area Community College's Carroll campus.
According to The Des Moines Register's Iowa Poll released Sunday, 65 percent of Iowans support increasing the minimum wage from its current $7.25 an hour.
An Iowa Senate panel approved a measure to increase the state's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour over three years - with Democrats supporting and Republicans opposed. U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, is one the chief architects of a federal plan to hike the wage to $10.10 in the next two years. Democrats nationally plan to use the issue as a defining one in the November elections.
Segebart said the wage can help some people but push others to a "cliff" where certain government benefits end, creating hardships.
His solution is to avoid the issue altogether as much as possible by working more aggressively to lure businesses to Iowa that pay employees $15 to $20 an hour, well above the current wage floor.
Muhlbauer's view on the issue tracks with findings in the Iowa Poll that show less support for increasing the minimum wage in rural Iowa (57 percent in favor) than the urban reaches of the state (69 percent in favor).
A jump in the wage is different in Carroll than larger cities, Muhlbauer said.
Muhlbauer said he didn't expect the issue to make the Iowa House floor this year.
That said, the minimum wage is a live wire, and Muhlbauer expects to send out a questionnaire asking constituents their views.
Segebart quickly followed up that point with a question about what western Iowans want done with a proposal to legalize most fireworks in the state.
"Do you like fireworks or do you not like fireworks?" Segebart said. He thinks local control should prevail.
On other issues, Muhlbauer supported a measure in the House to allow the use of gun silencers.
"I don't think you're going to see a big use of them," Muhlbauer said.
Supporters of silencers, among other things, say they allow gun owners to protect their hearing.
Both Muhlbauer and Segebart oppose the use of telemedicine techniques for providing abortion services with Muhlbauer calling them "online abortions."
Legislation banning doctors from prescribing abortion-inducing drugs over video links passed the Republican-controlled House but faces tougher sledding in the Senate where Democrats hold the majority.
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