Bill: Would no longer require OT after 8 hours for low income
Senate Republicans pushed legislation through the upper house Friday opponents say weakens overtime laws and takes money away from those making the lowest hourly wages in Nevada.
SB193 changes the rules for workers at lower hourly pay rates so instead of getting overtime — time-and-a-half their normal hourly rate — any day they work longer than eight hours, they only get OT once they pass 40 total hours in a week.
Republican Sen. Patricia Farley added language in the committee work session last month raising Nevada’s top-end minimum wage from $8.25 to $9 an hour to try to appease opponents but Minority Leader Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, and other members of his caucus said that was inadequate to cover the cut in take-home pay the OT changes would cause.
Sen. Kelvin Atkinson, D-Las Vegas, charged the legislation is “a slap in the face to our workers.”
He said he talked with one woman who said if she will have to work longer than nine hours in a day with no overtime, it will cost her more in time-and-a-half money she must pay daycare for her children than she will make in straight pay for the added work. He said that means the law will result in her making less money, not more in take-home pay.
Atkinson also objected the GOP amendment raising the minimum wage only applies to the wage rate employers must pay if they don’t offer any health benefits, not to the $7.25 an hour rate they pay if they do offer some form of health plan.
“An employer can simply offer a junk health plan which the worker doesn’t have to accept but, if he doesn’t, they can pay him the lower rate,” he said.
He also protested the decision by Majority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, and his caucus to cut off debate by the opponents of the bill and the four separate amendments they offered Friday.
After each amendment was presented, with two of them deleting the changes to overtime pay and three further raising the minimum wage, Roberson stood to “move the previous question.” That parliamentary motion cuts off debate if a majority (which the GOP has in the Senate) sustains. That strategy is rarely employed in the Nevada Legislature but Roberson used it Friday on each of the four amendments offered by Democrats and on the final vote on SB193.
Each proposed amendment was defeated on an 11-9 party-line vote — the same margin by which the bill itself was passed. SB193 goes to the Assembly for review.
Gov. Brian Sandoval spokeswoman Mari St. Martin said the Republican governor was reviewing a number of bills and proposed constitutional amendments changing the state’s minimum wage.
“The governor is paying close attention to this debate and if a bill reaches his desk he will consider the legislation based on its final language as approved by lawmakers,” she said in a statement.
Around 20,000 Nevadans work at or below minimum wage jobs, or around 3 percent of the state’s total workforce according to a 2013 Bureau of Labor Statistic report.
Currently, 29 states and D.C. have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage, as stated by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.