House lawmakers offer significant changes to minimum wage bill

By KBJR News 1

March 25, 2014 Updated Mar 25, 2014 at 5:16 PM CST

St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) - The debate over raising Minnesota's minimum wage returned to the Capitol Tuesday after a two week hiatus.

A conference committee got a look at a new proposal from the House offering some significant changes all in an effort to get Senate lawmakers on board.

House and Senate lawmakers agree the minimum wage should be bumped to $9.50 an hour from the current $6.15 an hour.

How fast remains the question.

"It will take some time to make that happen. We are trying to balance out raising the minimum wage with making sure we're accommodating some of the reasonable concerns that business owners might have," said Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley), the chief author of the bill.

A new offer from the House increases the minimum wage in increments over the next three years, through 2016.

Large employers:
$8.00 / hour - August 2014
$9.00 / hour - August 2015
$9.50 / hour - August 2016

Small employers / training wage:
$7.25 / hour - August 2014
$7.50 / hour - August 2015
$7.75 / hour - August 2016

The biggest sticking point for a handful of lawmakers is the rate of inflation, capped at three percent beginning in 2017.

"By capping it at three percent you make sure there is a limit of what it can go up to in any one year," said Rep. Winkler.

"I don't want to speak for other members that it's a non starter, but I do want to say that today there has been close to that many members who have said that is something they are not interested in, an inflator, and we want to go back with this proposal and see if they'll change their minds," said Sen. Jeff Hayden (DFL-District 62).

The Senate is expected to review the House offer in the next day or two.

The revised offer also calls for small businesses to be defined by making $500,000 a year. The current threshold is $625,000.

It also requests a 40 hour work week to apply to all employees, except those in the agriculture industry.

Written by Kevin Jacobsen
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