Today's News and Commentary – September 17
The Los Angeles Times reports on the phenomenon of young undocumented immigrants forming limited liability companies or starting freelance careers — even employing U.S. citizens — that has resulted from a quirk of federal law. Employers are explicitly prohibited from hiring someone residing in the country illegally, but undocumented immigrants themselves are not explicitly barred from starting businesses or becoming independent contractors on their own.
In the nation’s capital, the Washington Post reports that a vote today in the Washington, D.C., City Council to override Mayor Vincent Gray’s veto of a bill that would require retailers with corporate sales of $1 billion or more operating D.C. locations of at least 75,000 square feet to pay their employees no less than $12.50 an hour in wages and benefits, is likely to fail. The bill, which passed by a vote of 8-5 in July, was largely designed to respond to plans by WalMart to open several locations in the city.
Across the country, the New York Times reports that mounting financial pressures on municipalities and places of higher learning have led to increasingly common and often contentious disputes over who should pay how much for public services in college towns — especially because colleges, as nonprofit, tax-exempt entities, are under no legal requirement to pay local taxes.
In health care news that affects many low-wage workers, the Washington Post’s “Wonkblog” reports that a majority of states have now decided to opt into the Medicaid expansion provision of the Affordable Care Act in light of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s announcement yesterday that he plans to do so. Corbett’s decision could provide coverage to approximately 500,000 uninsured Pennsylvanians. Meanwhile, Wonkblog also explains Trader Joe’s decision to drop health insurance benefits for employees who work fewer than 30 hours a week, as the company says that it believes many of its employees will pay less for comparable health insurance by getting subsidies from the government on the new health care exchanges.
In more state government news, the Washington Post reports that the Minnesota legislature is likely to try to raise the state’s minimum wage in next year’s legislative session, the latest of about a half-dozen efforts to increase it over the last two decades. Currently, Minnesota’s minimum wage stands at $5.25 for employees at smaller companies and at $6.15 for employees at larger companies, but most Minnesota workers earn the higher federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
Finally, the Wall Street Journal reports that negotiations between Detroit’s creditors and the bankrupt city’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, are scheduled to begin today, formally launching the fight for the city’s assets. Orr has said he prioritizes restoring city services over addressing bondholders’ complaints, despite the fact that five bond insurers are the city’s biggest creditors.