Minimum Wage Vote Still Up In The Air

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

( - Although it has not been finalized, House Republican leaders are expected to make a final call before the week is out on whether to push ahead with a minimum wage increase package or abandon the issue for the year.

One plan being touted is the "Minimum Wage State Flexibility Act of 1999" being proposed by Rep. Jim DeMint (R-SC). This plan would allow states to opt out of any minimum wage hike. DeMint said the act is picking up substantial support among his House colleagues.

DeMint also said his legislation would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide an exemption to states that adopt certain minimum wage laws.

The legislation also requires that "an employer in a state that adopts minimum wage legislation shall not be required to pay its employees at the minimum wage." But the legislation would not apply to states that adopt minimum wage legislation that sets a minimum wage at less than $5.15 an hour.

Many Democrats, especially House Democratic Whip David Bonior (D-MI) and Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), have argued in favor of a raise in the minimum wage.

But some legislators have expressed serious opposition to a wage hike. During a House floor speech Tuesday, Rep. Joseph Knollenberg (R-MI) argued emphatically against a raise in the minimum wage at this time.

Knollenberg believes raising the minimum wage is "unnecessary," adding, "Raising the minimum wage harms the very people that it's supposed to help. U.S. census figures show that the average income of minimum wage employees increases by 30 percent, within one year of employment. Why? Because as these workers spend time in the workplace, they accumulate more skills and increase their own value, its just plain common sense," Knollenberg said.

"Less than three percent of employees above the age of 30 work at the minimum wage. The longer they're in the workforce, the more money they make," according to Knollenberg.

Knollenberg believes "there are better ways to empower the poorest and least skilled in our society. Tax incentives for working Americans and businesses are just one way. Raising the minimum wage is clearly the wrong way."