Hawaii legislature debating minimum wage hike

The Hawaii House and Senate both want to raise the state’s minimum wage. But the two sides haven’t quite reached an agreement on how much the wage should go up.

The state House this week passed a measure raising the wage for the lowest-paid workers to $10 an hour over the next four years. The state Senate sent proposed legislation to the House that would raise the wage to $10.10, the same level President Obama set for federal contract workers in an executive order earlier this year.

The differences seem minor: The Senate bill would raise the wage faster, to $10.10 by the beginning of 2017. The House version would wait an extra year, to 2018.

The House version would also allow employers of tipped workers — bartenders, waitstaff and the like — to pay their employees less if those tips actually come through. Employers would be able to pay their employees $1 less than the minimum wage if those employees earn at least 250 percent of the federal poverty level through gratuities.

Hawaii’s current minimum wage is $7.25, equal to the federal level. The two bills both passed the Democratic-dominated legislature by wide margins, meaning a wage hike is most likely to take effect once the differences between the two versions are ironed out.

Reid Wilson covers state politics and policy for the Washington Post's GovBeat blog. He's a former editor in chief of The Hotline, the premier tip sheet on campaigns and elections, and he's a complete political junkie.
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Reid Wilson · March 6