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Minimum wage bill moves forward in the Senate


HONOLULU – The Senate Committee on Ways and Means today advanced an amended version of Senate Bill 2609, a measure that would incrementally increase Hawaii’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 by 2017.

The changes to the measure reflect the committees desire to strike a balance between concerns from advocates on both sides of the issue to ensure lawmakers craft a responsible bill that boosts the minimum wage while not hampering small entrepreneurs.

“Since last session, I have been in support of a minimum wage increase and have been working toward an accord. We’re at the midpoint of the legislative session and there are several moving vehicles and ideas for lawmakers to consider,” said Sen. David Ige, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “I’m committed to ironing out the differences in opinion on this very important policy issue and am hopeful that we can strike a balance between all stakeholders so that we can come to an agreement by the end of the session.”

Senator David Ige, with prior concurrence from Sen. Clayton Hee, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, recommended the following amendments to the measure:

  • Delete the provision for authorizing the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to adjust the minimum hourly wage to the nearest 5 cents based on the Honolulu region consumer price index
  • Delete the repeal of the tip credit
  • Add a blank amount tip credit

These amendments will allow lawmakers to further the discussion, consider new proposals such as a “poverty threshold” to help protect low-income workers, and work out specifics on the amount of the tip credit.

All but one committee member voted to pass SB2609 out of committee. While discussing the recommended changes to the bill, colleagues acknowledged Ige for his work to “strike a balance” and thanked all advocates in the hearing room for their patience and participation in the legislative process.

The measure will now go to the Senate floor for third reading where, if approved, will then move to the House for consideration. Senators are expected to take this bill up during a full floor session on Tuesday, March 4.

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