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Proposed bill could limit city's power to raise minimum wage

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LAWTON, Okla_Senate Bill 1023 would make it illegal for any municipality or other political subdivision of the state to raise minimum wage.  Recently minimum wage has been a hot topic of discussion across the nation. In Oklahoma it's entering the conversation, again.

Tulsa Senator Dan Newberry wrote the bill which is co-sponsored by recently-elected House Speaker Jeff Hickman.  The bill, if passed, could have a big impact on workers living paycheck to paycheck across the state.

Some lawmakers say things need to change, but that House Bill 1023 wouldn't help at all. State Representative Joe Dorman explained, "Currently, one in six Oklahomans live below the poverty line. Things like this are not helping us in moving the right direction to provide a living wage to many Oklahomans."

But others have argued that raising the minimum wage would hurt both businesses and consumers. Small Business Management Coordinator Angela Ellis said, "How does that help the economy? You're still going to have to increase fuel, and going to have to increase groceries, and you're going to increase daycare"

The passage of the bill could have even bigger implications when it comes to city rights. Many believe towns and cities should be able to handle minimum wage locally, and this bill would make that illegal.  Dorman said, "It's also trampling on the Constitution by saying a city, in Oklahoma does not have the right to raise the minimum wage above what the current state level is.  That's certainly going in the wrong direction."

Dorman says overall the bill reflects the fact that some legislators at the state capitol are disconnected with what people living on minimum wage face everyday.  "The opponents of raising minimum wage are the ones that never made minimum wage. They are not the ones working in the restaurants, living on tips. They are not the ones struggling to make ends meet. They are not the ones living paycheck to paycheck trying to find a way to put food in their kid's mouths."

 If passed, the bill would go into effect July first of this year.

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