Shelby County moves to repeal local minimum wage ordinances to conform with state law

Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland is pushing for a vote on repeal of local ordinances that establish a “living wage” and a “prevailing wage” rules within the county since they conflict with a state law prohibiting such things, reports the Commercial Appeal.

Last year the Tennessee General Assembly passed legislation that prohibited cities and counties from passing or enforcing local laws that required businesses with which they contract to pay wages that exceed federal or state minimum wages.

Prevailing wage and living wage laws are measures that aim to boost pay for workers beyond minimum wage standards.

In 2009, the county approved a prevailing wage law that requires companies handling big construction projects to pay workers according to a scale based on a state survey of contractors.

And in 2007, the county passed a living wage ordinance that said companies that provide services to the county must pay workers at least $10 per hour with benefits or $12 without, a calculation based on what is required to meet a family’s basic needs.

But after state legislation passed in 2013, there were not enough votes from the previous County Commission to remove the ordinances from the code, Roland said.

“We still have the language that you have to go by living wage. Well the state killed that and we acknowledged that, but we never took it out of the policy,” he said. “We’re in violation of state law by the fact that that’s on our applications and the state has mandated that we take it off.”

He said it could lead to a suit against the county.