The Iowa Legislature adjourned the 2016 session 10 days past its target, but the timing could not have been much better.
Two days after adjournment — with no action on the state’s long-outdated $7.25 minimum wage — the second step of Johnson County’s local minimum-wage increase took effect Sunday.
The minimum wage in Johnson County moved from $8.20 to $9.15, with the final step to $10.10 scheduled for Jan. 1, 2017.
Johnson County supervisors acted last year because the state Legislature and U.S. Congress had not. Other counties in Iowa may see a need to follow suit if the state cannot move off the $7.25 level established on Jan. 1, 2008.
Working Iowans are trying to support families on minimum wage or slightly above because employers can get away with paying that below-poverty amount. Someone has to look out for low-wage workers when their employers refuse to do so.
Those employers benefit immensely from taxpayer support of education, law enforcement, roads and other public structures, not to mention direct subsidies or tax breaks.
The minimum wage is one way to establish accountability — and not just for business but for our political leadership as well. When state lawmakers won’t act, local officials may well take matters into their own hands.