The bill is similar to legislation that passed the Democratic-led House last year but died in the Republican-led Senate. The bill is sponsored by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Democrat from Prestonsburg.
This year’s version of the bill pushes the dates by which the bill will be implemented ahead by a year.
If HB 2 were implemented, the state’s minimum wage would increase from $7.25 an hour to $8.20 in July 2015, $9.15 in July 2016; and $10.10 on July 1, 2017. Under the bill, businesses with sales of less than $500,000 per year would be exempted from state’s minimum wage law. Wages would revert to the federal rate, $7.25 per hour.
The bill also includes a provision that prohibits wage discrimination based on race or sex.
The bill faced criticism in the House Labor and Industry committee hearing Thursday.
Shannon Stiglitz of the Kentucky Retail Federation said raising Kentucky’s minimum wage would force business owners to pass on expenses. And Rep. Regina Bunch, a Republican from Williamsburg, said raising the minimum wage would force business owners to also raise the wages for other employees.
“Those that are employed now that have earned by performance up to a wage of $10.10, I don’t think they’re going to be satisfied if we place everyone at their present wage and they’re going to expect an increase for their job performance as well,” Bunch said.
In December, Louisville’s Metro Council voted to raise the city’s minimum wage to $9 per hour. Earlier this week, Lexington voted to consider raising the minimum wage.
Stumbo said Kentucky needs to join the other states that have raised the minimum wage in other years. During the November elections, Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Illinois voted to raise the minimum wage in their states.
“Voters understand that you have to have a living wage for these folks, and they understand that it’s just good business,” Stumbo said, adding that the wage increase would stimulate the economy.
Since 2007, Kentucky’s minimum wage has been tied to the federal minimum wage rate.
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