Oklahoma Supreme Court Weighs Arguments Contested SQ 832 Minimum Wage Increase

KOKH - February 6, 2024 6:33 am

he Oklahoma State Supreme Court heard The State Chamber of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Farm Bureau’s arguments against SQ 832 last week.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court also heard arguments for SQ 832 from Raise the Wage OK.

SQ 832, which has been continuously challenged by the Oklahoma State Chamber and Oklahoma Farm Bureau, is a petition to increase Oklahoma’s minimum wage.

SQ 832 petitions to raise Oklahoma’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2029, and in 2030, would have the minimum wage be proportionate to the cost of living in Oklahoma.

The chamber challenged this petition in December 2023, calling it ‘legally insufficient for submission to the voters.’

The chamber added that if passed, it would result in higher prices for consumers, and would ‘threaten the economic viability of many agricultural businesses and the vitality of rural communities.’

However, Amber England, a spokesperson for Raise the Wage OK, said in December that the ‘wealthy interests’ of the state chamber are attempting to block a ‘reasonable wage increase,’

Too many Oklahoma parents work – often more than one job – but struggle to put food on the table when they earn less than $15,100 a year. Still the wealthy interests behind the State Chamber are doing everything they can to block a reasonable wage increase that would allow Oklahoma families to keep up with rising costs.

The State Chamber of Oklahoma reported that on Wednesday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court heard its issues with the petition.

The chamber called the petition ‘unconstitutional’ and Chad Warmington, President and CEO of The State Chamber added other issues within the petition,

I think the Court today got a really clear explanation from our team about what our problems with the state question are. We think it’s blatantly unconstitutional. You can’t delegate the authority to raise the minimum wage away to an unelected and unaccountable federal agency.

Warmington added that the current wages being paid is not the issue, but rather is that ‘Oklahomans [need] opportunities to upskill into the many high-paying jobs Oklahoma businesses have already created.’

There are thousands of good jobs paying far more than minimum wage but we don’t have enough personnel with those talents to fill the jobs. We’d like to focus more on developing and ensuring Oklahomans have access to the education, training, and certifications that they need to fill the thousands of jobs that pay far more than minimum wage. That’s the problem that we ought to be seeking solutions together on.

In an interview on Wednesday, England added that this is a ‘politically motivated challenge,’

I think we made the case very clear today that this is a politically motivated challenge in an attempt to block voters from having their opportunity to decide this issue at the ballot box… Oklahoma voters want an opportunity to vote on this, they’re tired of the fearmongering, and they’re ready to decide this issue… What we do know [is] that when we increase the minimum wage, when we make wages higher for workers, worker productivity increases, chronic absenteeism goes away. So, we just don’t believe the fearmongering that is coming out of the opposition. We’re on the side of working families, and we’re going to continue to fight to make sure that they see a pay raise.

 

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