(The Center Square) – A Tennessee bill that would allow cities and counties to set their own minimum wage failed Tuesday before a Senate committee, but a separate bill requiring people with disabilities to be paid the minimum wage in all the state was adopted.
State law requires employers across the state of Tennessee to meet the federal minimum wage of $7.25 without allowing local municipalities to have a separate minimum wage.
Senator Sara Kyle, D-Memphis, filed Senate Bill 1971 in an effort to allow cities to adopt their own minimum wage, claiming that 2% of Tennessee’s workforce earn minimum wage. The bill, however, did not receive a second in the Senate Trade and Labor Committee and, therefore, it will not make it out of committee.
“No one can live off of this, especially in cities where rent prices for low-wage workers have to keep up,” Kyle said. “In Memphis, rental prices rose at a record pace in 2021.
“I ask you to please trust the local government and local control.”
Sen. Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis, moved the motion for the bill but was not seconded.
Another bill, by Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, would eliminate a minimum wage exclusion for people with disabilities.
Senate Bill 2042 would require employers to pay employees with disabilities at least $7.25 per hour.
“People with disabilities are productive in our workplaces,” Yarbro said. “It insists that they are treated fairly.
“When disabled workers do the work, they get paid like everyone else.”
The bill passed the Senate Trade and Labor Committee, 9-0.
Federal labor law in the Fair Labor Standards Act allows a worker to be paid less than the minimum wage if a disability reduces their ability to do the job.
Yarbro submitted an amendment that is attached and approved with the bill after working with the Department of Human Services on the language surrounding the federal 14(c) program related to disabled workers.