Readers Respond

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Letters to the Pilot

Playing political games with minimum wage issues

To The Editor,

This week the Iowa House voted to increase the state's minimum wage by a

dollar to $6.15/hour. Five minutes later, House members voted to rule the wage hike out of order.

That was the political game being played last Monday night in the Iowa House. Democrats proposed adding the higher minimum wage to a bill appropriating money for jobs and development programs. It passed on a vote of 55-43, but then the Speaker of the House ruled that the proposal was out of order and could no longer be considered.

What happened next was interesting. A vote was taken to prevent the minimum wage proposal from being sidetracked procedurally, but it failed. Six legislators, who had voted for the minimum wage increase just minutes before, followed their Speaker, switched their votes and

effectively killed any further debate on the minimum wage this year.

Those six legislators - Doug Struyk of Council Bluffs, Jim Van Fossen of

Davenport, Rich Arnold of Russell, Dave Heaton of Mt. Pleasant, Walt Tomenga of Johnston, and Steve Lukan of New Vienna - will now be able to go home and tell their constituents that they voted for a minimum wage increase, maybe even with a straight face. But, having put politics

ahead of public policy, they will probably fail to mention that they were also the ones responsible for keeping low-wage Iowa workers from being rewarded for their hard work again this year.

- Pat Murphy, Iowa House

Democratic Leader