MADISON (WKOW) -- A bill that would abolish local living wage ordinances for state and federally-funded projects drew a large, irate crowd to the Assembly Committee on Labor Wednesday morning, barely 24 hours after it was introduced. Rep. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) wrote Assembly Bill 750 in response to the Milwaukee County Board's vote to establish a living wage ordinance last week, but it would have a huge impact on similar ordinances here.
"I think the bill is very hateful, spiteful bill that is aimed at low-income families," testified Michael Wilder with Wisconsin Jobs Now, a Milwaukee non-profit organization that fights for higher wages.
But the expression of outrage at the public hearing may have had more to do with how the bill was introduced.
"I'm very angry and I honestly encourage all of you to slow this down and to stop this bill," said Nicole Collazo-Santiago, who opposes the fact that Rep. Kapenga introduced AB 750 on Tuesday, had it scheduled for a public hearing Wednesday and will have it voted on by the Committee on Labor Thursday morning.
"My company is in Milwaukee and the second I saw the news story come out that there may be an ordinance put in place, I started working on this," said Rep. Kapenga, who owns a computer software business.
Rep. Kapenga says artificially inflating wages is bad for all employers in Milwaukee.
But the bill would also apply to similar ordinances elsewhere.
Both the City of Madison and Dane County require their own employees and the employees of their contractors to be paid a living wage, which amounts to $11.33/hour for the county and $12.45/hour for the city.
While AB 750 wouldn't prohibit those ordinances, it wouldn't allow living wages for work that is paid for in any part by state or federal dollars.
"We've had 15 years in which Madison has not only survived having this law, but quite frankly we've thrived," said Alder Lisa Subeck, who represents the 1st District of Madison.
Local officials say limiting the living wage to only locally funded items isn't necessary or practical
"When you think about how we fund things in our city, so often you're talking about a co-mingling of local dollars, state dollars and federal dollars, that if anything this could only cause more of a mess," said Subeck.
While the bill is being fast-tracked through the Assembly, Governor Scott Walker says it is not a part of his agenda.
But the Governor also didn't say whether or not that means he would veto it if it came to his desk.
MADISON (WKOW) -- A bill that would abolish local living wage ordinances for state and federally-funded projects drew a large, irate crowd to the Assembly Committee on Labor Wednesday morning, barely 24 hours after it was introduced.
Rep. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) testified that he wrote AB 750 in response to a vote by the Milwaukee County Board to establish a local living wage ordinance for all county employees and employees of private companies that do contract work for the county.
But the bill would also apply to the local living wage ordinances already established in Madison and Dane County. The City of Madison launched its local living wage ordinance in 1999.
Madison District 1 Alder Lisa Subeck says the bill is flawed, because municipalities often pool local, state and federal dollars together for projects. Subeck says she sees it as another attempt by legislative Republicans to prohibit local control.
Capitol Bureau Chief Greg Neumann is at today's hearing and will have more on 27 News at 5 and 6.
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