- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Iowa’s labor commissioner said Johnson County’s plan to raise the minimum wage to more than $10 an hour would be unlawful.

Labor Commissioner Michael Mauro told the Iowa City Press-Citizen (https://icp-c.com/1D57pF8 ) on Monday that employers always have discretion to pay more than minimum wage, but he said a county mandate would be unconstitutional because it would be inconsistent with state law. He said it would take a court challenge to prevent the county board from setting a new rate.

Last week, the county Board of Supervisors decided to seek a county ordinance that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by 2017. A draft version of the ordinance calls for raising the current minimum wage of $7.25 by 95 cents on Nov. 1 to $8.20. An additional increase in May 2016 would raise the minimum wage up to $9.15, and the wage finally would reach $10.10 in January 2017.

Johnson County Supervisor Rod Sullivan said he disagrees with Mauro’s interpretation of state law and that it could be read differently.

Iowa Code Section 91D.1a, which provides the most recent state minimum wage law, states: “The state hourly wage shall be at least $6.20 as of April 1, 2007, and $7.25 as of January 1, 2008.” Sullivan contends the phrase “at least” allows the county to raise its wage higher than the state minimum.

The Board of Supervisors is waiting to hear back from the Johnson County attorney on whether she thinks the wage ordinance would be legal.

Sullivan said he has heard from other lawyers in the community who support his interpretation of the law and that he hopes the board moves forward with the ordinance. The board is set to discuss the issue in a Wednesday work session.

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Information from: Iowa City Press-Citizen, https://www.press-citizen.com/


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