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A new year brings new laws and new controversies

A law that promotes uniformity between ordinances passed by cities and counties and existing state and federal laws may seem like a move towards consistency. In Ohio, it is creating controversy.

While Bill 331 signed by Gov. John Kasich focuses on Ohio employees and their benefits, work schedules and other issues, its impact on wages is drawing lines in the sand between minimum wage activists and politicians.

The most high-profile aspect of the legislation is the strict prohibitions on municipalities from setting their own minimum wage rate that exceeds the federal or state minimum.

The Uncertain Future Of The $15 minimum Wage Initiative

The initial fallout of the law saw Raise Up Cleveland withdraw their petition for a Cleveland ballot initiative seeking to phase in a $15 minimum wage. In a letter from leaders to the city council, they claimed that they had no choice but to withdraw the proposed ordinance.

The group also accused the Ohio General Assembly’s for silencing votes and eroding the authority of political subdivisions. Spokesperson Jocelyn Smallwood provided an equally harsh assessment of Mayor Frank Jackson, his administration, and the city council. She claims that they turned their backs on workers that elected them and denied them the right to vote on the minimum wage issue.

The bill was enacted following requests by Cleveland city officials and others. They felt that the special election would only serve to undermine the city’s ongoing economic recovery.

Smallwood sees the cooperation as collusion and vows to continue her fight.

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