Friday, August 04, 2006

McGavick on Maria's minimum wage vote, a tale of two letters

In attacking Maria Cantwell on her vote yesterday on the bait and switch minimum wage vote, Mike! McGavick referenced a letter from the Department of Labor:
Contrary to Sen. Cantwell's claim, the bill would not lower the wages of employees receiving tips below Washington state'’s minimum wage of $7.63 an hour. In response to Democrat claims, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a letter stating that the department interprets the bill as protecting the current minimum wage in Washington state.
I guess this is a matter of who you believe. Two letters, with two very different meanings, were written on the minimum wage/tips topic.

The DOL letter was written by former GOP congressional staffer Victoria Lipnic to Senate Leader Bill Frist, MD. It essentially said that while the bill wasn't very specific, for now they'd interprit it one way. But, really, we should tighten up that language since someone could easily see it another way. Seattle Times:
In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., a Labor Department official said the department would interpret the bill's language as protecting current wages for tipped employees in the seven states. Victoria Lipnic, assistant secretary of labor for employment standards, offered in the letter to work with lawmakers to clarify the intent of the legislation — something that several Republican senators, including Norm Coleman of Minnesota, said Wednesday they intended to do.
The other letter, from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, says the opposite:
...a memo by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service on Wednesday backed up the Democrats' position. Under the bill's language, the seven affected states "would seem to be prohibited from enforcing the minimum-wage rate provisions of their laws with respect to a tipped employee," the memo said.
So, do you believe a political appointee or a non-partisan research office?

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