The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed the Raise the Wage Act, which would lift the federal minimum wage from an unlivable $7.25 an hour, where it’s been stuck for more than a decade, to $15 an hour. Five out of six of Louisiana’s congressional representatives voted against the bill, and it’s expected to die in the Senate thanks in part to the opposition of Louisiana’s senators.

Nevertheless, that vote represents a sea change. Support for higher minimum wage laws has risen sharply in recent years. Eighty-one percent of Louisianans support a minimum wage hike according to an LSU poll conducted earlier this year, and even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently expressed support for an increase.

Yet, Congressman Steve Scalise was quoted in this newspaper trotting out the same tired scare tactics and trickle-down economics to oppose any increase whatsoever.

Scalise is part of a dwindling minority that believes it’s possible to survive on $7.25 an hour in America in 2019. Unfortunately, that minority holds outsized sway in Louisiana’s Legislature. That’s why a majority of the Louisiana House Labor and Industrial Relations Committee was willing to go against the will of their constituents to oppose a minimum-wage increase and defend a lobbyist-supported ban on city and parish control of local minimum wage laws.

It’s hard to imagine anything more antidemocratic than state legislators banning a policy at the local level precisely because they know Louisiana voters support it, and that given the chance, the local elected officials who represent those voters would pass it. And it’s difficult to understand why lobbyists at the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry and the Louisiana chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business hold more sway over our lawmakers than the overwhelming majority of people in the state.

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