Ohio may sue the city of Cleveland if it chooses to set a citywide minimum wage.
Mike DeWine, Ohio Attorney General, has released an opinion in relation to the recent attempts by Cleveland voters to raise the city’s minimum wage. In the opinion that was issued, DeWine stated that municipalities cannot legally set their own minimum wage.
Through a new group, Raise Up Cleveland, the Service Employees International Union recently collected signatures in support if a citywide minimum wage increase to $15 an hour, and the city council was compelled by the signatures to introduce legislation in the issue, and if the council decides to vote down the ordinance, the petitioners have the option to include the original language on the ballot for Cleveland voters, Cleveland.com reported.
However, according to a report from Cleveland.com, since 1912 the Ohio minimum wage has been governed by the Ohio Constitution, and DeWine’s opinion highlights the numerous problems that would arise should the city be allowed to set its own minimum wage.
In addition to revealing the issues with the city raising its minimum wage, while the surrounding areas maintain the current $8.10 an hour, in his opinion, which was requested by Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters, DeWine references Article II, Section 34 of the constitution, which is the same section of the Ohio Constitution that was used in 2009 to deny Cleveland the ability to require that city workers live in the city, Cleveland.com reported.
Article II, Section 34 establishes that it is the role of the legislature to pass laws that establish a minimum wage, and DeWine emphasized that no other provision of the constitution, not even the one establishing municipalities’ home rule authority, can overrule the legislature’s power under Section 34. Cleveland.com suggests that many city officials and some council members may be in agreement with DeWine’s opinion that the city has no legal right to legislate the minimum wage.
Certain councilmen have introduced alternative proposals to raise the city’s minimum wage over the coming five years, but the majority of the council is in opposition, and they feel that raising the minimum wage in Cleveland alone would hurt employers and employees alike, by prompting layoffs or even causing businesses to leave the city.
The influence that DeWine’s advisory opinion will have on the issue is yet unclear, but it suggests that, if the citywide wage increase were to come to pass, the state may sue the city and challenge the constitutionality of the ordinance, Cleveland.com reported.
Despite DeWine’s opinion, which can be trumped by a court order or an act of the General Assembly, Raise Up Cleveland released a statement calling DeWine’s opinion misleading and stating that the group’s campaign is continuing.