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View Diary: So they want to repeal the minimum wage. But that's not all. (149 comments)

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  •  Not just at Fed level - quick anecdote (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, drewfromct, rmabelis

    A number of years ago I was working for a union that was fighting to pass some state-level overtime language that would help a lot of our members (and lots of other people, too, by the way).  I attended a hearing of the relevant state House committee that regulated professional licensures -- the committee was set to vote on the bill we wanted to pass.

    First, I watched as the committee passed a bill to allow state-licensed barbers to leave their barbershop open even if they left the premises with customers there.  Dull, but fine, that legislation for you.

    Then the bill we were working on came up for a vote.  The GOP leader on the committee was recognized and said that the US Constitution forbids states to pass laws limiting overtime.  Why?  He quoted the Contract Clause:

    No State  shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

    The argument, such as it was, was that the bill would interfere with employers and union workers from agreeing to a contract allowing mandatory overtime, and thus would involve the state legislature "impairing the obligations of contracts."

    Note that the same legislature had no problem with the state legislature forbidding me and my neighbor from entering into a private contract to have him cut my hair in exchange for $10 without the official, licensed say-so of his Professional Licensure Committee.

    Anyway, the GOP members all voted "no" and the bill didn't make it out of committee that go-round.

    I thought it was possibly the dumbest and most cynical argument I'd ever heard, and I've heard a lot.  Now, I still think it's one of the dumbest arguments I've ever heard, but I'm no longer sure it was cynical.  He might actually have believed what he was saying.

    "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

    by Pesto on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 07:37:20 AM PDT

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