The Senate Labor Committee yesterday approved a bill that would require companies contracted by the state to pay their workers involved in the contract at least a "living wage" of $9.43 an hour.
The bill now goes to the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
Welfare advocates and some labor union officials said the measure is a reasonable one for employers and that it would bring more money into the state economy and help more families become self-sufficient.
A 2000 Legislative Reference Bureau study indicates that less than 600 workers would be affected by such a law.
Under the bill, contractors who fail to pay the living wage rate would be subject to a fine of $300 for each day each affected employee wasnt paid the rate; wage restitution for each affected employee; suspension of contract payments; and a ban from bidding on future state contracts for three years or until the penalties and restitution have been paid.
The bill would take effect July 1 and be repealed in 2005.
Contracts that would be exempt from the measure include construction contracts, contracts awarded to students who receive stipends and contracts which employ prison inmates.
The bill also would allow for waivers in cases where paying the living wage "would cause undue economic hardship." Such exemptions would require a public hearing and the approval of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.