Monday, December 9, 2013
The Associated Press
CONCORD, N.H. - Calling New Hampshire's minimum-wage law a job-killing regulation, Republicans overrode Democratic Gov. John Lynch's veto in June and stripped the law from the books.
The change takes effect today, but it will have no consequence for employers or employees because New Hampshire's minimum wage was the same as the federal wage, which remains in force.
During the fight over the removing the state law from the books, Republicans insisted the wage law not only makes it harder to create jobs, it kills them.
"With this veto, the governor is sending the wrong message to employers that New Hampshire is going to make it harder to create jobs," Republican House Speaker William O'Brien said in June. Voters, he said, have sent "a clear message that they wanted more jobs, not job-killing regulations like the minimum wage."
House Republicans also killed a Democratic-sponsored bill that would have raised the wage. Democrats argued the 75-cent proposed hourly increase would put $30 more each week in the pockets of the state's 4,000 lowest-paid workers, money that would be spent boosting the economy.
Democrats -- including Lynch -- insisted that stripping the state minimum-wage law from the books effectively cedes control to Congress.
"Repealing New Hamphire's minimum wage leaves New Hampshire workers at the whim of the federal government," House Democratic Leader Terie Norelli said in a statement to The Associated Press. "Congress could lower the federal minimum wage, or eliminate it altogether with the idea that it should be a state issue, leaving New Hampshire workers with no protection."
Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen said repealing the law "sends a terrible message of disregard for those at the lower level of the job ladder."
But Henry Veilleux, lobbyist for the New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association, said the partisan battle over the law amounted to a lot of political scrambling over nothing.
"There was so much political air spent on something that is meaningless, in my opinion," he said.
Veilleux said most businesses already pay above the $7.25-per-hour minimum wage to attract and keep good workers.
Curtis Barry, lobbyist for the Retail Merchants Association of New Hampshire, said the group took no position on the effort to repeal New Hampshire's law. Barry added that he's not aware of any retailers wishing for the minimum wage to be lowered.