Friday, March 6, 2009

House Democrats Stick It to the Republicans on the Minimum Wage for Waitresses

Posted By on Fri, Mar 6, 2009 at 5:12 AM

click to enlarge Doesn't she deserve a pay raise?
  • Doesn't she deserve a pay raise?
House Democrats used their press conference this week to attack Republicans for opposing an increase in the minimum wage for hard-working waitresses. Rep. Henry Fincher's bill to raise the wage for tipped workers from $2.13 an hour to $3.28 an hour failed in a subcommittee Tuesday by a 3-3 vote with our favorite Republican nutjobs, Reps. Stacey Campfield, Brian Kelsey and Mike Bell, all voting no. Here's some of what Fincher said:

"This week the legislature had a chance to make life easier for working families and three Republicans in subcommittee chose not to do that. ... We're talking about $3.28 an hour for someone who's breaking their back, wiping down tables, hustling food to people for tips. And these people and their party opposed it. It's awful for someone to sit here and say you can live on $2.13 an hour. That's not enough. We need to help working families. We're in a hard time and people are hurting. We will continue to fight for working families. This bill and this principle of taking care of working people in this state ain't dead."

It was a rare smart moment for the House Democrats this session. They stepped up to make a forceful argument on a clear, meaningful issue and showed what they're all about. So why can't they do this with the governor's bill to close the tax loophole for real-estate tycoons. Many of these rich people, who include a New York strip club king, don't even live in Tennessee. Blame the Democrats' silence on their leader, Gary Odom, who has sold out to the developers.

Asked at the same presser whether he's for closing that loophole, Odom said, "I'm still gathering information." After all, it' s only been a year since Odom helped kill this proposal in the last General Assembly. Why was Odom against it last year? Well, that was because it came up late as part of a Revenue Department "technical correction" bill. That really bothered Odom, of course, because you know how much of a stickler he is for deep and thoughtful study of all ideas before the legislature. Here's his explanation:

"That was a significant change in tax policy in the state, and I believe it deserves to be considered in a piece of legislation before the General Assembly. It can go through the committee process. Committees can have testimony from affected Tennesseans who have that exemption. We can examine the history of how it occurred and go from there. Last year, my concern was process."

Update: Republicans favor tax breaks for out-of-state rich people, including titty bar owners.


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