Interest Groups In Texas

The United States has a minimum wage law prohibiting any employer from paying less than $7.25 per hour. Many states – and even some individual cities – have set local minimum wages higher than the federal level. Texas has declined, keeping our state’s minimum wage the same as in federal law.

Last year, State Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) filed H.B. 290 (Links to an external site.) to raise the Texas minimum wage in stages, reaching $10.10 by 2024.

The Center for Public Policy Priorities, a left-leaning advocacy organization, supports raising the Texas minimum wage above the federal level. They argue that low-skill workers’ pay has not risen at the same rate as their cost of living – particularly for housing.

The Texas Restaurant Association represents restaurants – large and small – throughout Texas. They have argued that raising minimum wages above the equilibrium level for unskilled workers means that many of the most vulnerable workers will lose their jobs as companies find ways make do with fewer of them. Self-service checkout lines in grocery stores are an example of what happens when wages rise above the natural level set by the market.

For your assignment, write our usual 2 – 5 page essay with three specific sections.

1. If you were representing the Center for Public Policy Priorities at a lobbyist, what would you do to help pass Rep. Thompson’s bill?

2. If you were representing the Texas Restaurant Association as a lobbyist, what would you do to change or defeat the bill?

3. If you were a state legislator, how would you deal with these competing interests? What information would you want, and how would you view the issue?

Submit in Word. Cite your sources.

Note: This is an essay about interest groups and what they do. Tell me what you would do in each of these three roles. Do not spend your essay telling me what you think about the minimum wage issue.

Resources

Here’s the Center for Public Policy Priorities: http://forabettertexas.org/ (Links to an external site.)

Here’s the Texas Restaurant Association: https://www.txrestaurant.org/ (Links to an external site.)

Here’s H.B. 290: https://capitol.texas.gov/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=86R&Bill=HB290 (Links to an external site.)

The Texas Tribune talks about Texas’ reluctance to address this issue: https://www.texastribune.org/2018/12/20/most-states-raise-their-minimum-wages-texas-refuses-budge/ (Links to an external site.)

Here’s a CPPP position paper on this issue from 2015: https://forabettertexas.org/images/EO_2015_04_MinWage_report.pdf (Links to an external site.)

The Hill News explains some of the problems with raising the minimum wage: https://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/economy-budget/321967-minimum-wage-hikes-fail-to-benefit-low-income-families (Links to an external site.)

The University of Washington has found that Seattle’s higher minimum wage as hurt workers: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/study-seattles-minimum-wage-is-hurting-the-poor (Links to an external site.)

The Nation Magazine disagrees: https://www.thenation.com/article/no-seattles-15-minimum-wage-is-not-hurting-workers/ (Links to an external site.)

A University of California-Irvine study finds particular problems in poor neighborhoods: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/economy/higher-minimum-wages-increase-poverty-in-poor-neighborhoods-study-finds (Links to an external site.)

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