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Anti-Living Wage Bill Steamrolls Through Committee

Assembly Republicans set record time fast-tracking anti-living wage bill

Today, the Assembly Committee on Labor moved forward on AB 750. The bill would ensure ongoing poverty by making it illegal for municipalities to set living wage standards. The measure passed on a party-line vote. This is misguided and unfortunate, but not shocking. With barely 48 hours between the bill’s introduction and adoption in committee, Assembly Republicans continue to strong-arm widely-unpopular legislation through the Capitol, only breaking to allow the bare minimum in legally-mandated public input.

Yesterday’s hearing on AB 750 was demonstrative. Although they had less than 24 hours to mobilize, over 50 citizens from across the state registered their opposition to the measure and spoke passionately against AB 750’s assault on local control. Officials from Madison and Dane County, who have had living wage ordinances for over 15 years, testified to their efficacy in relieving poverty while noting that Madison has the lowest unemployment rate in the state. As the hearing continued, however, it became clear that the bill was more about punishing the Milwaukee County Board for passing a living wage than for addressing bills already on the books.

Rep. Kapenga, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, their friends at the American Legislative Exchange Council and the corporations they all represent have a vested interest in keeping Milwaukee workers in poverty. Though they will deny this charge and deflect by calling for a raise in the state or federal minimum wage, they know it remains politically improbable. Workers, using the tools at their disposal, have taken to the streets in protest, gathered thousands of petitions, and made use of the democratic process to fight back against the inaction of state leadership in addressing income inequality. The response, in the form of AB 750, is nothing short of a slap in the face to average Wisconsinites looking to take care of their families.

We urge legislators statewide to stand against AB 750, it’s fast-tracking, and it’s manipulation of the democratic process. We urge them to stand with families fighting for a better life and a say in writing the rules in their own backyard. Stand up for local control.

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