by Fran Quigley
Clinical Professor of Law (Faculty Profile)
Health and Human Rights Clinic
Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law
Lawrence W. Inlow Hall, Room 111N
530 W. New York Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202-3225


Proposals to raise the U.S. minimum wage have attracted a great deal of attention in the last several years.  At the federal level, President Obama and many members of Congress have expressed support, via the Fair Minimum Wage Act, for an increase in the U.S. minimum wage. [1]. The legislation calls for an increase to $10.10 per hour for most workers, compared to the current minimum of $7.25 per hour. [2].  The bill also would increase the bottom level of pay for tipped workers from $2.13 per hour to 70% of the hourly worker minimum, and index both hourly and tipped worker wage levels for inflation. [3].

The federal bill has not passed, but twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have all raised their minimum wage above the federal level. [4].  At least 140 individual communities have passed living wage ordinances, which raise salaries above the federal or state minimums. [5].  Bills proposing an increase in Indiana’s minimum wage, currently set to mirror the federal level, [6] failed to get a hearing in the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly. [7].

The minimum wage debate has often been characterized by misstatements of facts and forecasts that are not supported by evidence.  In an effort to separate the myths from the reality, here are four arguments for raising the minimum wage:

by Drake T. Land
J.D. Candidate, 2015, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law
Indiana International & Comparative Law Review: Executive Articles Development Editor
B.S., 2007, Ball State University; Muncie, Indiana
dtland@umail.iu.edu
Twitter (@draketland)
LinkedIn

Editor’s note: Mr. Land’s article was selected from submissions in the Indiana Law Review‘s first writing competition.


Following the introduction of Genetically Modified Organisms (“GMOs”) into the food market in 1994, [1] consumer groups and multiple legislative bodies have fought to restrict their sale and label GMOs differently than traditionally developed foods. [2].  This push to restrict the sale, or label, of GMOs is born of the fear that GMOs will have unforeseen consequences to human health and/or the environment. [3].  These fears have been shown to be unrealized after twenty years of market availability [4] and, although restrictions on the sale of GMOs and mandatory labeling is the law in most European countries, [5] labeling initiatives have not achieved the same success in the United States’ federal and state governments. [6].  The European Union “has probably the strictest GMO regulations in the world though these derive rather from political considerations, rather than being based upon scientific principles.” [7].  Unlike the European Union (“the EU”), the United States Constitution explicitly “promote[s] the progress of science,” [8] and under this framework the United States has provided more protection to the development and retail of GMOs.

All currently grown crops have been developed through genetic modification. [9].  “By selectively breeding plants and animals with the most desirable traits, our predecessors transformed organisms’ genomes, turning a scraggly grass into plump-kerneled corn, for example.” [10].  Following Mendel’s discovery of the inheritance of genetic traits, farmers and scientists alike have been using selective breeding and hybridization to alter food crops to make them more reliable and marketable. [11].  “Today, there are virtually no food products in supermarkets that have not been improved in some manner by selective breeding.” [12].

by Jonathan Hughes [1] (Attorney Profile)
Bose McKinney & Evans, LLP
111 Monument Circle, Suite 2700
Indianapolis, IN 46204
(317) 684-5381
jhughes@boselaw.com


“To preserve legislative independence, . . .‘legislators engaged in the sphere of legitimate legislative activity should be protected not only from the consequences of litigation’s results but also from the burden of defending themselves.’” [2].

“Private lawsuits threaten to chill robust representation by encouraging legislators to avoid controversial issues or stances in order to protect themselves.” [3].

“We are governed by laws, not by the intentions of legislators.” [4].

“[I]t simply is not consonant with our scheme of government for a court to inquire into the motives of legislators . . . .” [5].

“All politics is local.” [6].  Former Speaker of the House Thomas Phillip “Tip” O’Neill used these words to remind federal politicians to “pay attention to their own backyards and take care of their folks.” [7].  The concept also carries a broader meaning – that local legislative actors are most intimately entrusted with providing services to the public.  Often, local legislative actors are not afforded the opportunity to focus solely on their legislative jobs.  Their role as town council member, city council member, or state legislator is often only a part-time job for which they must supplement their salary with other work.  Federal legislators, on the other hand, are afforded full-time jobs and a staff to assist them in performing their functions.  In this context, when a city or town is sued for taking some legislative action, the local legislator should be protected from judicial inquiry to the same extent as the federal legislator.  Unfortunately, a circuit split has developed, with some federal courts providing a lesser legislative immunity to local legislators than is provided to federal legislators.