Could Black Hawk County Vote Spur More Counties to Raise Minimum Wage?

The Black Hawk County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday morning to establish a task force to look into raising the minimum wage. The measure was approved 4-1, with only Supervisor Linda Laylin voting against creating the task force. With this vote Black Hawk County has the potential to join Johnson, Linn, and Polk Counties in passing a county-wide minimum wage increase.

Each Supervisor will have the opportunity to appoint two members to the task force. A timeline for the task force has not been laid out yet, but some Supervisors on the board encouraged Supervisors to make their appointments within two weeks.

This vote by the Supervisors comes as some state legislators discuss introducing and passing a minimum wage preemption bill. A preemption bill would strip Iowa counties of local control of the minimum wage in their communities and lower wages in counties that have already passed ordinances back down to the state and federal level of $7.25/hr.

Black Hawk County Supervisor Chris Schwartz is in favor of a county level minimum wage ordinance and explained, “There is a difference between economies of different counties across the state. Elected officials at the Board of Supervisor level are the most accountable and connected to their constituents, so local control puts the most power on important issues directly in the hands of the citizens.”

The Black Hawk County Supervisors say they are acting on the minimum wage issue for the same reason other counties across the state have – lack of initiative by the state legislature and growing poverty in their communities. “The simple fact of the matter is the federal and state governments haven’t acted since 2007, and we have folks living here with stagnant wages. Low wages keep Black Hawk County residents in poverty and out of home ownership, which lowers the property tax revenue for the county,” said Supervisor Schwartz.

He continued, “Since the federal and state governments are failing to take action for hardworking Iowans, we felt the need to step up and represent the interests of the folks in our county.”

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