Tennessee Bill To Allow Cities To Set Their Own Minimum Wage Fails

Image Credit: Marco Verch Professional Photographer / CC

The Center Square [By Jon Styf] –

A Tennessee bill that would allow cities and counties to set their own minimum wage failed in a Senate committee Tuesday, but a separate bill to require individuals with disabilities to receive the minimum wage throughout the state passed.

State law requires employers throughout the state of Tennessee to follow the federal minimum wage of $7.25 without allowing for local municipalities to have a separate minimum wage.

Sen. Sara Kyle, D-Memphis, filed Senate Bill 1971 with a goal of allowing cities to enact their own minimum wage, saying 2% of Tennessee’s labor force makes minimum wage. The bill, however, did not receive a second in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, and, it, therefore, will not move out of the committee.

“No one can live on that, especially in cities where rent prices for low wage workers to keep up,” Kyle said. “In Memphis, rent prices grew at a record rate in 2021.

“I am asking you to please trust local government and local control.”

Sen. Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis, entered the motion for the bill but was not seconded.


Another bill, from Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, would eliminate a minimum-wage carve-out for those with disabilities.

Senate Bill 2042 would require employers to pay employees with a disability at least $7.25 per hour.

“People with disabilities are productive in our workplaces,” Yarbro said. “This insists they be treated fairly.

“When disabled workers are doing the job, they get paid the same as everyone else.”

The bill passed the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, 9-0.

Federal labor law in the Fair Labor Standards Act allows for a worker’s pay to be less than minimum wage if a disability reduces his or her ability to do the job.

Yarbro submitted an amendment that is attached and approved with the bill after working with the Department of Human Services on language surrounding the federal 14(c) program related to workers with disabilities.

About the Author: Jon Styf, The Center Square Staff Reporter – Jon Styf is an award-winning editor and reporter who has worked in Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan in local newsrooms over the past 20 years, working for Shaw Media, Hearst and several other companies. Follow Jon on Twitter @JonStyf.

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