Jefferson County Attorney gives green light to Metro Council for increasing minimum wage

August 25, 2014

For Immediate release:
Louisville Metro Council
Contact: Tony Hyatt 574-4137 / 526-3622

Louisville ?The Jefferson County Attorney?s Office has offered a formal opinion that the Metro Council does have the power to increase the minimum wage locally.
Earlier this year, several members of the Council asked for the County Attorney?s direction in trying to determine if the Council has the legal power to raise the minimum wage.
In a letter to Councilwoman Attica Scott (D-1), Mike O?Connell wrote:

?The Jefferson County Attorney?s Office is of the opinion that under Kentucky law, a local government can pass an ordinance that would establish a minimum wage for employers and employees operating within the boundaries of the local jurisdiction, even if they are in the private sector.
Kentucky Revised Statues (?KRS?) (67C.101(3) provides for the powers of a consolidated local government, including the power to ?Pass and enforce by fines and penalties, if necessary, all ordinances , not inconsistent with law, as are expeidient in maintaining the peace, good government, health and welfare of the inhabitantsof the county and prevent, abate, and remove nuisances.
Kentucky revised Statue KRS 67C.101(o) provides tha local governments may ?Exercise all other powers and authorities granted to counites and cities of the first class by th egeneral laws of the Commonwealth of Kentucky?

The County Attorney also believes there will not be an enforcement problem with raising the minimum wage locally nor would it conflict with any current state laws.
"Thank you to County Attorney O'Connell for his due diligence and thorough legal Opinion on raising the minimum wage in Louisville," said Scott.
"We stand on the precipice of transforming the lives of at least 61,000 people in Louisville who can barely make ends meet because they are paid minimum wage."
?We have approached this issue very carefully as we have seen other cities and states move forward with increasing the minimum wage, ? said Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin (D-2). ?The Community Affairs Committee held two meetings to hear all sides on the issue. We held a special public hearing to invite the community to offer their thoughts. Overall everyone says increase the minimums wage. Now we have the opinion of our County Attorney to move forward.?
?This is an issue of helping Louisville families have a better wage to live on and care for their children?s needs,? said Councilman David James (D-6). ?While helping families is a primary goal this also helps out community.?
Scott, Shanklin and James are the primary sponsors of a draft ordinance which would gradually raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour over a period of years. The sponsors have indicated they will soon introduce the ordinance.
In May, all 17 members of the Democratic Caucus of the Louisville Metro Council signed on in support of raising the minimum wage in an Guest Op Ed piece in the Louisville Courier Journal.

Attica Scott (D) 1
Barbara Shanklin (D) 2
David James (D) 6