#Coleg Notebook: Minimum wage, maximum disagreement
Last year, Colorado lawmakers engaged in a five-hour floor fight about raising the minimum wage. Were they considering hiking it to $15 an hour, as was done elsewhere? No. They were wrestling over a resolution in support of a Congressional proposal that would raise the national minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
Rep. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, is not letting go of the topic. He has planned a two-pronged approach: He wants to repeal a 1999 law that prohibits local governments from setting their own minimum wage, and he wants to propose a ballot referendum that would ask voters directly to raise the minimum wage.
“Business groups are going to come at the local control issue saying it will create a patchwork of wages, which I understand,” said Moreno. “But there are places in Colorado where the cost of living is much higher than others and who knows better the cost of living than local officials who actually live in those communities?”
To answer that critique, his ballot measure will ask voters to raise the wage to somewhere between $10.10 and $12.50 an hour.
“Colorado voters like to vote on a lot of things. They like to vote on taxes, why not give them the opportunity to vote on raising the minimum wage?” he said.
But referring a legislative measure to the ballot takes a super two-thirds majority of votes. If he fails this year, Moreno said wage activists and union members are likely to run their own version in 2016.
“In that case it’s very much in the hands of those grassroots activists who believe that $10.10 or $12.50 doesn’t go far enough,” said Moreno. “Those who are opposed to a referred measure need to consider that, we could frame the issue on our terms.”
Senate President Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, was less than bullish on the idea.
You mean government mandates on how a business should operate?” he asked. “That’s pretty tough for us.”
Governor sticking to guns on mag-ban
It wasn’t the first question gathered members of the press asked him Tuesday, but it was the most inevitable, because… guns! “What will you do if the 15-round ammunition magazine ban repeal actually makes it to your desk?”
“The magazine law, however many questions there are about it — how easy it is to enforce — it makes our state safer. We could not find a single example of someone defending their home or their property who ever used more than fifteen rounds, ever, not one. It’s not something people need for public safety. It is an inconvenience if you’re going to the shooting range…”
Hickenlooper clearly has been practicing how to talk on this issue. He has stumbled in high profile ways in the past. This time he said that 30 percent to 40 percent of police officers killed in the line of duty were shot down by guns stocked with more than 15 rounds. He also noted that high-capacity magazines have been used in the vast majority of mass shootings.
“Even if the repeal gets to my desk … I’d have real misgivings about signing something that doesn’t make our state safer and doesn’t provide any additional Second Amendment protections.”
Powdered alcohol ban/regulation suddenly makes sense
In the time it took Colorado lawmakers to turn a ban on hypothetical product into a regulatory structure for it, the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau went and did something radical. Earlier this week, it approved powdered alcohol for sale/ distribution, making it a real thing. As with that other controversial recreational Colorado product (weed!), the plan is to regulate “Palcohol” like alcohol and keep it away from the kids. At least one lawmaker is doing one of these:
Leading image: Three were arrested in Denver in September of 2014, protesting for a raise in the minimum wage for fast food workers.
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