The Alabama House of Representatives voted on party lines, 71 to 31, to pass a law prohibiting municipalities, including Birmingham, from setting their own minimum wage rates. The bill has now gone to the Alabama Senate, where it is being reviewed and debated and should be voted on shortly. I anticipate the Alabama bill will pass in the Senate, again along party lines, blocking Birmingham's Minimum Wage Ordinance.
Based on Governor Bentley's recent positions, it is difficult to determine if he will sign the bill if it does pass the Senate. Even if he vetoes the bill, I believe there are enough votes in the Legislature to override the veto again on party lines.
Birmingham employers who pay less than the proposed minimum wage of $8.50, are facing the dilemma of what to do. If the law does pass, there is a question as to whether it will be implemented prior to March 1, 2016, the effective date of Birmingham's ordinance. A legal challenge to the enforceability of the law could also cause substantial delay. For now, employers should remain prepared to increase wage rates as necessary to comply with the Birmingham ordinance effective March 1, 2016.