Bill to Raise UT Minimum Wage Fails to Pass

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) - A bill to raise Utah's minimum wage failed to get through the House Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee on Tuesday. This debate comes as several other states raise their minimum wages giving a better idea of it's impact on families and businesses.

H.B. 147 called for the minimum wage to be raised to $10.25 an hour, and tipped workers to receive $5 an hour. The bill proposed raising the minimum wage one dollar an hour every year until 2023 when the wage would hit $15 an hour.

Rep. Lynn Hemingway, (D) of Salt Lake City, has brought the minimum wage issue up the last four sessions. He said this is about getting people out of extreme poverty.

"I want to make sure these wages get them to the poverty level," said Rep. Hemingway. "We are so far below the poverty level with $7.25 an hour it's almost impossible to get there."

Those who spoke out against the bill, like Matthew Madsen, worry raising the minimum wage could lead employers to hire less and cut back on hours.

"I believe that this bill and the wages that it mandates will actually end up hurting the very people it seeks to help," said Madsen.

This debate comes as many states and cities around the country have voted to raise their minimum wages. Many who testified pointed to their successes and drawbacks when advocating their points during the hearings.

Jean Hill, of the Salt Lake City Catholic Diocese, testified about the issues she sees because of the low minimum wage. She believes it's having an impact on other issues effecting our state including homelessness.

"There is not one county in this state where $7.25 will enable you to rent an apartment," said Hill. "It is not enough money to meet that basic need of housing."

Other lawmakers on the committee brought up several concerns with the wage increases. Including the rate at which it would be raised. Rep. Mike Winder, (R) of West Valley City, asked if $15 an hour would be too high for Utah which normally has a cheaper cost of living than major cities.

"Is $15 too high for this state, and that's higher than the other 30 states," said Rep. Winder. "Maybe they are fazing it in over time to get up there I know some of the cities are. Frankly I'm not sure if this legislature would have an appetite to make that big of a jump."

The committee voted unanimously to hold the bill. Supporters said it will likely be sent down to rules committee and not brought up again during this legislative session.


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