Bill would allow businesses to pay family members less

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(Photo by KYLE PFANNENSTIEL) Rep. Ronald Nate, R-Rexburg, speaking at the House Business Committee Jan. 30.

BOISE — Idaho businesses who employ immediate family members who are minors may soon be able to pay them less than minimum wage.

A bill that would add immediate family members under 18-years-old to the minimum wage exemption law was introduced by the Idaho House Business committee Jan. 30 with two dissenters.

Current state law offers minimum wage exemptions for minors working on family farms and for 16-year-olds working part-time under four hours a day.

Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, proposed the legislation because a constituent in his district who builds log homes reached out to him about the disparity.

“He was worried whether he was breaking the law or not to have his kids work in the shop, and sweep up and clean up. And he saw the exception for agriculture and wanted to make sure he was on the right side of the law when he employs his family members,” Nate said.

Nate’s bill initially would have applied the exemptions to extended family members as well, but its lack of definition for the term extended caused debate in the committee that ultimately resulted in its striking out by Assistant Majority Leader Brent Crane.

“The word chosen was actually the recommendation of the drafter from LSO, so I will circle back with them,” Nate told the committee.

After the term’s removal, Rep. Armstrong said “I moved to my uncle’s farm and had this minimum wage requirement (existed), I think he would have had a very difficult time having me milk the cows every morning and night and I wasn’t his immediate family. I was extended family, and I would have been in very difficult circumstances had that not be available to him.”

Two democrats, Rep. Sally Toone and Rep. Dick Chilcote, voted against the bill. Chilcote is filling in for Boise Rep. Hy Kloc.

The proposal can now go to a public hearing before the committee.

Kyle Pfannenstiel covers the 2018 Idaho Legislature for the University of Idaho McClure Center for Public Policy Research.

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