FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 30, 2014) — Legislation that would raise the state’s minimum hourly wage of $7.25 to $10.10 by July 2016 has cleared the Kentucky House Labor and Industry Committee.
The wage would be increased incrementally to $8.10 an hour this July, $9.15 per hour in July 2015, and $10.10 an hour the following July under House Bill 1, sponsored by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg. The legislation also proposes a prohibition on wage discrimination, specifying that Kentucky workers be paid equal wages for equal work, regardless of sex, race, or national origin, with a few exceptions based on seniority, merit pay, or productivity measures.
Stumbo said approximately 391,000 working Kentuckians earn less than $10.10 an hour — including parents of one in five Kentucky children. He added that the current state minimum wage rate translates roughly to $15,080 in gross annual pay for many full-time Kentucky workers.
HB 1, he explained, would raise that to $16,209 a year for those workers.
“This is about the people who are earning the absolute lowest wage that a citizen…can make,” said Stumbo.
Among the members of the committee with concerns about HB 1 was Rep. Lynn Bechler, R-Marion, who said he wants everyone to earn a decent wage but added, “I’m also very concerned about jobs.” He said the impact of federal health care reform combined with Social Security and other costs would significantly increase costs for a small business — a cost equal to that of 2.6 employees in the first year alone, Bechler said.
Kentucky would join 21 states and the District of Columbia that have a minimum wage above the federal minimum wage, also now $7.25 an hour, should HB 1 become law.
While HB 1 includes no proposed increase for wages of tipped employees, an increase in the minimum wage for tipped employees — which includes mostly restaurant employees — is included in HB 191, sponsored by Rep. Will Coursey, D-Benton, which also passed the committee today. That bill would raise the current tipped employee state minimum wage from $2.13 an hour to $3 an hour this year, then incrementally each year until the wage is 70 percent of the state minimum wage for non-tipped employees, now $7.25 an hour.
Both bills now go to the full House for consideration.