Wow. In a surprising turn of events last night, the legislature shelved a bill that would have resulted in several increases to the state’s minimum wage over the next several years. Thus, the state’s minimum wage will remain at $7.25, at least for another year.
Throughout the entire 2013 legislative session, it was almost a certainty that the legislature was going to pass a bill raising the state’s minimum wage. At the beginning of session, both the House and Senate introduced several bills that proposed an increase to the state’s minimum wage. In addition, Governor Abercrombie proposed a minimum wage increase in his State of the State address. Finally, even President Obama has proposed an increase to the minimum wage (at the federal level.) Therefore, on the issue of an increase to the minimum wage, it appeared the question was not “if” but rather “when, and by how much?”
Towards the end of the 2013 legislative session, one bill relating to the minimum wage – SB 331 SD2 HD1 – remained. This bill was introduced by the Senate, amended twice by the Senate, and then amended once by the House. The latest version of the bill proposed an increase of $0.50 for the next three years (effective January 1, 2014, 2015 and 2016), and then a $0.25 increase on January 2017. Thus, the proposed minimum wage scale was as follows:
- January 1, 2014 – $7.75
- January 1, 2015 – $8.25
- January 1, 2016 – $8.75
- January 1, 2017 – $9.00
Unlike former versions of this bill (and some other bills), the latest version of this bill did not tie future increases to the minimum wage with inflation. The bill also had a blank ($___) amount for the state’s tip credit, which is currently just $0.25.
During conference, the Senate and House Conference Committee members met on SB 331 HD1 five times. The last meeting occurred last night, Friday, April 26, 2013 at 5:45 pm, just 15 minutes before the legislature’s self-imposed deadline for passing all bills out of conference. At that final meeting, House Conference Chair Mark Nakashima noted that (a) the proposed minimum wage increase signified a 24% increase from the current minimum wage and (b) the parties had spent 90-95% of their time on discussions over the proper amount of the tip credit, and as a result, were unable to reach a resolution on the amount and timing of the minimum wage increases.
In response, Senate Conference Chair Clayton Hee said it was a “damn shame” that they could not reach agreement on the minimum wage bill.