Milwaukee’s living wage: a tale of two Chrises

This is just bad, bad, bad.

The “living wage” ordinance backed by the Milwaukee County Board last week — and others like it — would be barred under legislation up for a hearing Wednesday at the Capitol.

The proposed state measure prohibits local governments from enacting or enforcing a minimum wage law. It also would bar local officials from having residency requirements for workers on public works projects.

State Rep. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield), the bill’s author, said it was prompted by the pending county wage ordinance as well as long-standing local laws requiring that some public works jobs go to residents.

Milwaukee County has had an ordinance since 1995 calling for 50% of workers on county road and other public works jobs to live in the county, with some exceptions.

Kapenga said he is proposing a living wage revision that would bar local minimum wage ordinances only in instances where state or federal money is involved.

That should help quell concerns that the measure tramples on local control, Kapenga said. It would be unfair to permit state money to go to locales with such laws because it would effectively transfer money from other areas with lower minimum wages, he said.

County Supervisor David Bowen, the author of the Milwaukee County ordinance, called Kapenga’s bill “a slap in the face” to local control.

According to the Journal Sentinel’s report, Eric Peterson, the county lobbyist who works for County Executive Chris Abele, registered January 7 to lobby on a number of issues, including prohibiting local living wage ordinances such as the ordinance passed by the Milwaukee County Board.

However, in a Facebook status update posted yesterday, County Executive Abele denied any effort on his part to lobby in favor of state legislation prohibiting living wage ordinances.

Despite some of the things you might have seen posted by certain groups, I did not lobby for the state bill limiting living wage laws.
In fact, the hours listed on the GAB website are for hours we spent lobbying trying to RAISE the state minimum wage to $10.10 for all workers.
An effort I will continue to fight for.

In other Chris-related living wage news, during the hearing on AB750, Republican Rep. Chris Kapenga made it clear he understands the plight of low-wage workers in Milwaukee because he drives through Milwaukee every day to get to he company he owns.

Rep. Kapenga described himself as “a little unique” and very sympathetic to the struggles being faced by residents of Milwaukee, because even though he lives in and represents the suburb of Delafield in Waukesha County, he employs people who live in Milwaukee County and he drives through Milwaukee every day.

Sure enough, Chris Kapenga is the owner and president of a company with its headquarters in downtown Milwaukee. It’s just a few blocks off the Interstate. I’m sure he soaks up all the culture and feels the soul of Milwaukee’s many ethnic neighborhoods as he speeds past them on I-94. If not there are plenty of right wing radio stations in Milwaukee to help him understand “those people” while he commutes.

Just like former half-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin could see Russia from her house, Rep. Chris Kapenga can see Milwaukee from the driver’s seat of his car as he speeds through on I-94!


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1 thought on “Milwaukee’s living wage: a tale of two Chrises

  1. Kapenga’s drive-by exemplifies one of the biggest problems faced by the city and county, exurb a$$holes who use the benefits of metro area but refuse to pay any taxes for them. Roads, water, Arts, sports and airport are all used more by suburban residents than city residents. Most MKE residents can’t even afford to take in a sporting event. Revenue sharing from the State is supposed to make up for this. But it has been steadily decreasing. Maybe a 100% tax on nonresidents for game and event tickets?

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