President Barack Obama is doing anything but closing out his lame duck term quietly. On the contrary he’s doing yet another end run around both the U.S. Congress and all 50 states that would impose another mandate that will cost money and jobs, possibly forcing states to raise taxes as well.
Twenty-one states have filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Sherman, Texas, to stop him. Hours after the states filed their lawsuit, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups filed a similar lawsuit with the same federal court.
Obama’s new mandate would force employers in all states to pay overtime to certain state employees. These employees include “bona fide executive, administrative, or professional” workers as they are not covered by the federal law that requires states to pay overtime for work performed beyond 40 hours in a week. The mandate applies to both private and public sector employers.
On the surface this sounds somewhat sensible. Why shouldn’t any state worker – or private sector worker contracted by the state – be eligible for overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a week? One reason why this hasn’t happened yet is that many states are strapped just trying to balance their current budgets. Mr. Obama’s lack of hope and change, much less his promised economic recovery, hasn’t helped.
The law says it should be up to the individual states first to decide if, and when, they should make such a change. Then they can ask Congress to change the law, and it’s up to Congress to have the final say.