Revised minimum wage bill ready for House vote

A Minnesota House panel approved legislation today to increase the state’s minimum wage.

Under the DFL-sponsored bill, the current minimum wage of $6.15 per hour would reach $9.50 by 2015 in three steps. Future inflationary increases would be automatic. Members of the House Ways and Means Committee also added language to expand unpaid parental leave from six weeks to 12 weeks, and to lower the trigger for overtime pay from 48 hours a week to 40 hours.

Rep. Tim Mahoney, DFL-St. Paul, said the bill will help the state’s lowest paid workers.

“You know, there used to be a compact: eight hours of rest, eight hours of work and eight hours of family,” Mahoney said. “That seems to have gone by the wayside, and it’s time America and Minnesota and this world get back to that attitude.”

But several Republicans warned that the bill will hurt small businesses. They also claimed the new overtime requirement would be unrealistic for farming and other agriculture jobs.

Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, said a minimum wage increase without a tip credit for restaurants is a mistake that will hurt small businesses and employees.

“This is troubling to be. This is unfortunate,” McNamara said. “We continue to erode the opportunities for us to grow and keep business here in Minnesota, and we’re pushing them out of the state. But actually the worst part of this bill is without the increase in the wages without a two-tiered system.”

The full House is expected to vote on the bill Friday. House Democrats had previously proposed a minimum wage increase to $10.55. Senate Democrats are pushing for a new rate of $7.50 an hour.