Business Groups Applaud Introduction of Legislation to Soften Blow of Minimum Wage Hike

(KFOR NEWS  January 6, 2023)   Lincoln, NE – The Nebraska Grocery Industry Association (NGIA), Nebraska Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), Lincoln Independent Business Association (LIBA), Nebraska Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association (NPCA), Nebraska  Hospitality Association (NeHA), and the Nebraska Retail Federation (NRF) applaud Senator Tom Briese of Albion for introducing LB 15, legislation to establish a youth and training wage across the state of Nebraska.

This bill is modeled after several other states that have recognized the importance of providing small businesses some flexibility when it comes to complying with new government mandates,” stated Briese.  “A one-size-fits-all approach that treats businesses in Omaha and Lincoln exactly like those in Albion or Oshkosh disproportionally hurts small and medium-sized business and ignores significant differences in labor markets and job opportunities across our state.

Workers earning the minimum wage make up less than 2% of all hourly workers,” stated Ansley Fellers, Executive Director of NGIA.  “We shouldn’t make it harder for employers to hire young people, people entering or reentering the workforce, and people with disabilities.  These
are people learning new skills, how to work and interact with customers, and even how to manage money.

Small, independent businesses make up 99% of all employers,” according to NFIB’s Bob Hallstrom.  “And many of our small business owners are struggling.  According to a recent NFIB study, labor remains the top concern for our small business owners, while our optimism index remains below the 48-year average thanks to inflation, supply chain issues, and skepticism of the economic future.

The constitutional rules surrounding ballot initiatives limit how much detail can be included,” said Fellers.  “Otherwise, I’m sure you would see more detail on the ballot.  We saw this with gambling.  Voters said they want this to happen, but the legislature is tasked with setting the rules
and regulations around its implementation.

In November, voters did not send a signal they were trying to put their local grocer out of business,” said Briese.  “Unfortunately, without some commonsense changes, that’s exactly what will happen.

Nebraska Initiative 433 passed on the November 8th ballot.  The initiative increases the current  minimum wage from $9 to $15 by 2026 and hikes the mandate according to the Midwest CPI every year after that.

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