Minimum wage issue shows clash of ideas among state Republicans

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -  "It was a close call," Representative Mike Ball (R-Madison County) says, "It wasn't an easy call to make."

The vote totals did not reflect that; the law that prevented municipalities from raising their minimum wage passed with a combined total of 94-42.

But the theoretical close call comes from an idea conservative legislators talk about often.

Ball sums it up, "I do believe that as many decisions as possible should be handled on the local level."

Senator Bill Holtzclaw (R-Madison) adds, "The city council of a community is the closest form of government to that community. I believe that the government closest to the people is most responsive to the people."

Even still, Ball got on board with the bill. Holtzclaw opposed it, but he only had one other Republican senator on his side.

Don't read that to say that Holtzclaw supports minimum wage increases though.

He says frankly, "The free market should dictate how much the minimum should be in an industry, in a city, in a state."

Holtzclaw says even if the senate sees the writing on the wall, it's not their place to correct the mistake. Defer to home rule.

On the other side of the statehouse, Representative Ball says municipalities don't stand alone, so the state legislature needs to get involved sometimes.

"If one fares well," he notes, "then it helps everybody. If one doesn't fare well, then it hurts everybody."

Still, Holtzclaw says he saw the clash of ideas rankle through Republicans, "There were several conversations with my colleagues, that even though they voted for the legislation, they were at angst with themselves, because they saw my perspective of big government."

Just not enough to vote that way.

Now, local organizers with Raise the Wage Huntsville say they'll just challenge the minimum wage on the state level. They've already begun contacting other municipal organizations to band together, elevating their outcry to the next level of government.

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