The debate over the minimum wage is one that we have continued to have for decades. It is clear to the American people that our current federal minimum wage of $7.25 is not sufficient to cover the increasing costs of housing, services, healthcare, and basic quality of life expenses. The stagnation of the minimum wage has greatly contributed to the wealth gap that we are grappling with across the county. Many cities and counties have tried to address this by raising the local minimum wage, but in 25 states conservative legislatures have passed preemption laws that prohibit local governments from raising the minimum wage above the federal standard. This has resulted in billions of lost wages for lower income households and individuals.
I support the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 which will gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025. This law will also index the minimum wage to median wage allowing for non-legislated increases as the labor market demands. This will help stall the widening wage gap, lift millions of Americans out of poverty, and effectively end this debate for years. However, we need to take this one step further and allow provisions that protect local governments who choose to mandate wages higher than the federal minimum. State legislatures should be restricted from enacting preemption laws that take this power away from cities and counties. These local elected leaders are responsible for the economic conditions of their regions and more accountable to their communities. As such, we should empower them to lead.