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In class we discussed in a federal system there is “preemption” which allows Congress or State Legislatures to insist on one uniform set of standard and regulations in a policy area that all states or local government in a state have to follow. Or “partial preemption” in which Congress sets the minimum or maximum standard in a policy area that a state must meet, but can always expand on for their citizens. The flip side of preemption, under the 10th Amendment, each state has the right to regulate certain activities free from federal interference or home rule which allows local governments to regulate certain activities free from state interference.

The minimum wage is example of federalism, preemption and partial preemption. There is federal minimum wage, $7.25 (applies to all 50 states, employers who meet requirements, must pay this amount) but a state can increase it beyond this amount (partial preemption); Oregon statewide minimum wage is $9.25, (applies to all employers in Oregon who meet requirements), but local governments CANNOT increase it beyond this amount, FULL PREEMPTION.

This system creates some level of consistency (across the U.S. and Oregon)  and standards, which is an advantage of federalism, but also prevents local governments from responding directly to the needs of their community, and could result in a patchwork of solutions, which is a disadvantage of federalism.

The President has called for an increase in the federal minimum wage and this fall Oregonians will be asked to vote on changes to the minimum wage, increasing the statewide minimum wage and/or removing the statewide FULL preemption from allowing local governments to increase above the statewide minimum. As you consider these options, which layer of government should be the one that decides what the minimum wage? Why?

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