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January 1990, Vol. 113, No. 1
State labor legislation enacted in 1989
Richard R. Nelson
A sizable increase in the volume of labor standards legislation introduced and enacted by the States occurring in 19891 In addition, several legislatures dealt with and enacted laws pertaining to difficult and sometimes controversial issues that have emerged in recent years, including parental leave, employee drug and AIDS testing, door-to-door sales by children, the effect of employment on school performance, genetic screening, and workplace smoking.
Attention was also given to minimum-wage protection and other traditional subjects, including bans on employment discrimination, collection of unpaid wages, and worker safety and health.2
Wages. Again this year, minimum wage was a major subject of legislative activity. A first-time law was enacted in Iowa, and new actions increased rates in Arkansas, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode island, and Wisconsin, and in Puerto Rico for employees of the restaurant, bar, and soda fountain industry. Rates also increased as the result of prior action in six other jurisdictions (Maine, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Vermont, the Virgin Islands, and Washington [1988 ballot initiative]). Measures linking State rates to future Federal rate increases were adopted in Delaware, Illinois, Montana (up to $4.00 an hour), and Nevada. In Missouri, a State without a minimum-wage law, a bill that would have enacted a law with a rate linked to the Federal rate was vetoed.
Under a new law signed by the President on November 17, 1989, the Federal minimum wage will increase to $3.80 on April 1, 1990, with a further increase to $4.25 scheduled for April 1, 1991. Beginning April 1, 1990, employers will be permitted, under certain conditions, to pay workers under 20 years of age a subminimum training wage of not less than $3.35 an hour for up to 90 days. Beginning April 1, 1991, this sum will change to not less than the greater of $3.35 or 85 percent of the minimum wage. Payment of the training wage is permitted for an additional 90 days with any other employer where the youths are in approved on-the-job training programs. Among other changes, new amendments exempt enterprises with annual gross volume of sales of less than $500,000 and increase the maximum allowable tip credit from 40 percent of the applicable subminimum-wage rate to 45 percent on April 1, 1990, and to 50 percent after March 31, 1991. (A bill which would have raised the Federal rate in three annual steps to $4.55 by October 1, 1991, and included a temporary training wage for up to 60 days cumulative for all employers was vetoed on June 13, 1989.)
1 See 58 U.S.L.W. 3144 (Aug. 29, 1989); see also, The Supreme Court, 1987 Term—Leading Cases, 102 Harv. L. Rev. 143, 350-58 (1988)
2 See Sup Ct. R. 16, 17.
This excerpt is from an article published in the January 1990 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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