BOISE – Legislation to raise Idaho’s $7.25 per hour minimum wage won’t get a hearing this year, a Senate committee chairman said Thursday, because he doesn’t believe it has enough political support.
“If it doesn’t appear to have a chance to get through the process, we aren’t going to have a hearing,” said Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, chairman of the Senate State Affairs Committee. “I don’t believe that there are the votes in the Senate State Affairs Committee or in the full Senate or House, if it got there. I don’t think it’s supported by my constituents.”
A statewide poll by Idaho Politics Weekly, conducted by Dan Jones & Associates last summer, showed 70 percent of Idahoans favor raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour.
Asked how he knew his constituents wouldn’t support a higher wage, McKenzie said, “That’s just my impression – I could be wrong. But I don’t see this as an issue that my party, the Republican Party, generally advances.”
“Lift Up Idaho,” a coalition working to raise Idaho’s minimum wage, criticized the decision.
“Most people don’t realize that the individual who presides over a committee can arbitrarily decide which issues are important enough to allow public testimony,” the group said in a prepared statement. “Minimum wage is an issue worthy of a public discussion.”
The bill, sponsored by two Democratic lawmakers from Boise, would raise Idaho’s $7.25 per hour minimum wage to $8.50 an hour on July 1, 2016, and to $9.75 on July 1, 2017. The minimum wage for tipped workers would rise from the current $3.30 an hour to $3.80 on July 1, 2016, and to $4.25 a year later. After that, both would be adjusted annually based on changes in the Consumer Price Index.
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