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Johnson County Supervisors push symbolic minimum wage increase

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) – The Johnson County Board of Supervisors is alerting businesses this week about a minimum wage increase starting in July. The only problem is that they can’t enforce it.

“In the beginning they actually had the force of law,” Supervisor Rod Sullivan said. “Then, the state legislature undid that in 2017.”

Sullivan and the Johnson County board raised their minimum wage up to $10.10 an hour to start 2017. A few months later, former Governor Terry Branstad passed a state law prohibiting local governments from raising minimum wage above the state level.

So, the wage went back down to $7.25 an hour; which is also the federal wage floor.

County officials have since continued to urge local businesses to abide by their the recommended wages they put out after collecting data. Quite a few are on board.

“I’m glad they have provided that leadership so I can use that as guidance,” Karen Kubby said, manager of Beadology Iowa. “And we will continue to look to that county commission.”

Several cities have not gone step-for-step with the county, however. Shueyville and Solon city leaders voted down wage increases pre-2017, and are now not part of the county program.

Other statewide organizations see problems with an individual county setting their own wage.

“If we have 99 counties that want to address wages in 99 ways, that has to be done at the state level,” Iowa Restaurant Association President and CEO Jessica Dunker said. “For their to be equity for all business people across the state.”

Travis Breese

Reporter, Iowa City

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