The Ohio House has approved a bill that would prohibit local municipalities from setting minimum wages higher than the state level.
It would block Cleveland's special election next year to raise the minimum wage from $8.10 to $15. The bill, known as Senate Bill 331, now goes to the Ohio Senate.
Republican backers say a patchwork of minimum wage laws would create an uncertain business environment that could hurt current companies and drive those considering Ohio to look at other states.
Democratic opponents say local communities should be allowed to set minimum wages above Ohio's current level of $8.10 to help workers.
Raise Up Cleveland, the group promoting raising the minimum wage, responded with a statement:
Lawmakers in the Ohio General Assembly voted today to directly interfere in the local process that would allow Cleveland voters the opportunity to approve a minimum wage increase in May of next year and take that same ability away from every local community in the state.
The ‘Petland Bill,’ which was intended to prevent cities from limiting where pet stores purchase puppies, was packed with additional amendments, one of which will reserve the right to raise the minimum wage exclusively to the state.
“It is shameful that lawmakers in Columbus would interfere with a local democratic process,” said Jocelyn Smallwood, spokesperson for Raise Up Cleveland. “Voters should have the opportunity to decide—for themselves—whether or not to approve a minimum wage increase. For state lawmakers to deprive citizens the right to vote so that they can make a statewide power-grab is wrong—plain and simple."
“Out-of-touch politicians have once again shown their true colors. The actions of the Ohio General Assembly are in direct opposition to the will of the people and will hurt the very individuals who make our communities run.”
“Our movement has consistently held the moral high ground and will continue to work in whatever ways possible to move workers in this state from a starvation wage to a living wage. In the coming days we will explore every option available to continue this fight.”
The bill was included in legislation overriding local ordinances that regulate pet stores, requiring them to purchase animals from shelters and rescue groups as opposed to buying them from high-volume breeders, which critics say are often puppy mills that treat animals poorly.
The legislation also includes bans on bestiality and a crackdown on cockfighting and "bearbaiting."