Tuesday, February 6, 2001
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Posted on: Tuesday, February 6, 2001

Minimum wage proposal advances

By Lynda Arakawa
Advertiser Capitol Bureau

The state Senate Labor Committee yesterday passed a bill that would raise the state minimum wage from $5.25 to $5.95 on July 1.

Under the bill, the minimum wage would be adjusted annually in accordance with the state consumer price index. Committee chairman Bob Nakata, D-23rd (Kaneohe, Kahuku), said the bill didn’t address what would happen to the minimum wage if the consumer price index were to fall, adding: "We’ll let the following committee deal with that."

The Labor Committee passed the bill by a 4-1 vote, with Sen. Sam Slom, R-8th (Waialae Iki, Hawaii Kai), voting against it. It now goes to the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

The measure also would eliminate the current 20-cent tip credit, which allows employers to pay an hourly wage of $5.05 to employees whose tips and pay amount to at least 50 cents more than the minimum wage.

Businesses yesterday said raising the minimum wage would eliminate jobs, slow job creation and cause inflation. But social service and labor advocates said the measure would help the working poor become self-sufficient.

The last minimum wage increase was in 1993. Leonard Agor, director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, said the minimum wage in California, Washington, Oregon and Alaska is higher than in Hawaii.

The House and Senate passed bills to increase the minimum wage last session, but the effort failed in conference committee.

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