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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (March 11, 1997)
Minimum wage may increase
make most businesses
fulfill the national
criteria for base salary
By Brian Carlton
A legislative bill that would in
crease the state minimum wage to con
form with new federal standards whs
advanced to the flow of the Legisla
LB569, sponsored by Sen. Don
Wesely of Lincoln, would require em
ployers with four or more employees
to pay employees $5.15 per hour be
ginning Sept. 1, 1997.
The legislation follows last year’s
passage by Congress of a federal mini
mum wage increase. The two-step in
crease raised the minimum wage to
$4.75 per hour effective Oct. 1,1996,
and will raise it to $5.15 per hour be
ginning Sept. 1, 1997.
Wesely said the state legislation
was necessary because the federal
minimum wage does not cover all
Employees who fall under the Fair
Labor Standards Act, employers gross
ing more than $500,000 annually and
employers engaged in interstate com
merce are bound by the federal law.
State law expands the minimum wage
to cover all employers with four or
Gordon Peterson, representing the
Nebraska Association of Trial Attor
neys, said an increase in the minimum
wage for all workers was needed to
prevent dangerous economic gaps in
“Tliere have been several studies
that show a shrinking of the middle
class and growing numbers of the pov
erty class,” he said. “That is a very
negative, potentially long-term pros
pect for this country.”
Kris Morrissey, director of policy
for Voices for Children, said the gov
ernment had a responsibility to fight
the negative effects of childhood pov
Although Head Start and govern
ment welfare programs provide some
assistance to poor families and chil
dren, Morrissey said, an increase in
the minimum wage was the most im
portant step in curbing poverty.
“Most agree, the best way to tem
per poverty in children is to raise the
parents’ wages,” Morrissey said.
Members of the Legislature’s Busi
ness and Labor Committee unani
mously voted to place the measure on
general file for consideration by the
entire legislative body.
The committee took no action on
LB860, a separate bill sponsored by
Wesely which would create the Ne
braska Commission on Jobs and
Wages. The proposed commission, to
be composed of business and labor
leaders appointed by the governor,
would be responsible for investigating
the state’s labor conditions in relation
to national rankings.
According to Nebraska Depart
ment of Labor information provided
by Wesely in his testimony, an esti
mated 110,000 Nebraskans hold jobs
paying $5.00 per hour or less.
Nebraska’s average wage places it in
the bottom 10 percent of all states.
The average wage in Nebraska is
23 percent below the national average.
Although the state’s cost of living is
lower than the national average, the
difference is less than 12 percent.
At $5.15 per hour, a full-time mini
mum wage worker would earn
$10,300 annually. This figure is 15
percent below the national average of
the 1970s after factoring out inflation.
The Nebraska Commission on Jobs
and Wages would study wage factors
such as worker skills and education,
the state’s low unemployment rate,
work-place technology and state eco
nomic development policies.
“The goal is to join hands between
business and labor and search for some
common ground for improving wages
in the state of Nebraska,” Wesely said.
Colleges could get aid
From Staff Reports
Nebraska’s private nonprofit col
leges and universities would get state
money to provide student financial aid
under a legislative bill heard Monday.
Sen. Daniel Lynch of Omaha in
troduced LB645 to the Legislature’s
Appropriations Committee. The bill
would allocate $605,000 in 1997-98,
and $1.1 million in 1998-99 for finan
cial aid. The money would come from
Nebraska’s General Fund.
Thomas O’Neill, president of the
Association of Independent Colleges
and Universities of Nebraska, said stu
dents should decide on a college based
on where they have the best chance
for academic success — not based on
No one spoke in opposition to the
Phillips pleads innocent to charge I
OMAHA (AP) — St. Louis Rams running
back Lawrence Phillips pleaded innocent to a
disorderly conduct charge stemming from a
party at an Omaha hotel that police said got
out of hand.
Phillips, 21, waived his arraignment and did
not appear in Douglas County Court Monday
but entered the plea to the misdemeanor charge
through his attorney.
The former Nebraska I-back was arrested
for disorderly conduct last month when police
responded to complaints of noise at a party in
Phillips’ hotel room at the Red Lion Inn. Po
lice said Phillips was upset when officers ar
rived and had to be restrained by two men at
Phillips also is scheduled to be in court in
Lancaster County for a hearing to determine if
he violated his probation for a September 1995
assault on his former girlfriend.
A child doused some items in an aban
doned garage with gasoline and lit the build
ing on fire with a cigarette lighter, destroy
v ing the garage and landing him in trouble
with the law.
Lincoln Police Sgt. Ann Heermann said
the 10-year-old child was arrested and re
ferred to Youth Aid Sunday evening after
police investigated a suspected arson.
The Lincoln Fire Department was called
to the burning garage at 400 W. Saunders
Ave. at 5:05 p.m. A witness said he saw two
children running away from the garage af
ter the fire started. The garage sits on a lot
next to a demolished house.
Loss was reported to be $5,000.
An intoxicated man toting two Civil
War-era guns was arrested after he fired
them three times in a north Lincoln neigh
Floyd Marit, 42, of Lincoln, was arrested
near 47th and Colfax streets after police set
up a perimeter and caught him running
along some railroad tracks, Heermann said.
A witness told police he heard two gun
shots and went outside to investigate. When
he was outside, he heard a third shot and
saw a man running north on 49th Street.
Marit was arrested and jailed for dis
charging a firearm in the city limits. He built
the firearms from do-it-yourself kits.
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