Governor Signs SB185 Into Law, Repealing Unfair and Demeaning Minimum Wage Exemption

Updated: Oct 13

Today, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy signed Senate Bill 185 (by Senator Peter Micciche) into law, which repeals the antiquated minimum wage exemption in Alaska Statute 23.10.070 which allows anyone who “is impaired by physical or mental deficiency, age, or injury” to be paid less than minimum wage.

Additionally, Senate Bill 185, adds in a narrowly defined exemption for nonprofit resident camps that provide staff with room and board, professional development and training. The added language allows for camps to have a predictable and consistent process for budgeting and planning for staff wages. Camps will either pay staff wages at least equal to 80% of the minimum hourly wage for 40 hours per week or 50% of the minimum hourly wage for all hours worked. All camps operate differently so the “either/or” language allows camps to choose the process that best works for their camp business model. The language is similar to what at least 39 other states have in place for resident camp staff compensation.

The added language ensures that these camps for Alaskan youth can continue to function and that staff who work at them are compensated within the national norms for resident camps across the country. Predictable and manageable costs allow as many families as possible to afford to have their children participate in camps that offer youth enrichment activities and experiences.

The bill retains the requirement that all minimum wage exemptions be approved by the Department of Labor Commissioner.

“Many Alaskans with disabilities are actively and productively employed in workplaces throughout Alaska,” said Senator Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, prime sponsor of Senate Bill 185. “They are not second-class citizens, or ‘bargain employees.’ It is unfair for people to be discriminated against where their performance is most often equal or superior to their counterparts not experiencing a disability. It is demeaning to judge a person on the basis of their disability by paying them a salary that is less than they are worth. As Alaskans, we are better than that. Senate Bill 185 is a way for us to acknowledge the value of all Alaskans in the workplace and ensure that people are paid fairly for their knowledge and job performance. Many thanks to the members of the Governor's Council on Disabilities & Special Education, affected non-profit resident camp personnel, co-sponsors of the effort and for the nearly unanimous support by the legislature to right an obvious wrong that has existed in Alaska Statute for far too long.”

For more information, please contact Madison Govin in Senator Micciche’s office at 907-283-7996.