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Vote on Louisville Minimum Wage Hike Tabled By Metro Council Committee

A Louisville Metro Council committee tabled a long-anticipated vote on a minimum wage hike Thursday, delaying a decision for two weeks.

After several council members weighed in on the measure, Councilman Ken Fleming, a 7th District Republican, called for a motion mandating an audit of the financial impact of the proposed wage hike.

The motion passed and the Labor and Economic Committee will now vote on the ordinance in a Dec. 15 meeting.

Fleming's move drew the ire of outgoing District 1 Councilwoman Attica Scott. Scott, a Democrat who spearheaded of the proposed wage hike, called his actions a “political game.”

Another Democrat, District 3 Councilwoman Mary Woolridge, said she was surprised by the call for more research on the matter, and described the move as a "stall tactic."

Fleming disputes this.

"As much as I'm going to get criticized for it, I really don't care, because I'm trying to be financially responsible in making sure that we understand what we're getting ourselves into and what we can expect in terms of a revenue stream over the next three years out," Fleming said.

The proposed ordinance would require all Louisville employers to raise their minimum wage pay to $10.10 per hour by July 2017. The current minimum sits at $7.25 per hour.

The measure was first pushed in September by a group of Council Democrats and has since gained nine co-sponsors, all Democrats. The 26-member Council is comprised of 17 Democrats. The Republicans are opposed to the hike.

A financial impact statement will detail the costs to the city that would be associated with raising the minimum, including the costs of issuing fines and collecting penalties.

Woolridge, in arguing against the study Thursday, said this research had already been requested by Councilman David James, of the 6th District.

“Everybody on this Metro Council knows he has that information,” Woolridge said.

Fleming was specific in requesting an audit of that impact report, said Tony Hyatt, spokesman for the Council's Democratic Caucus.

Stephen Haag Jr., spokesman for the Metro Council Republican Caucus, said on Twitter that Fleming had actually requested the audit nearly a month ago “to avoid forcing this item to be tabled.”

The proposed wage hike has garnered traction among low-income workers across the city. About 40 citizens attended the committee hearing.

One of these supporters, Cori Jeter, 25, decried the need for a further financial study, claiming Fleming was not “concerned about the math,” but solely interested in delaying the process.

“I’m just appalled at the fact that they have the nerve to make a spectacle out of what is supposed to be democracy,” Jeter said.

Had the ordinance passed through the committee, it would have gone before the full Metro Council on Dec. 11.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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