Last updated: February 11. 2014 10:23AM - 383 Views

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FRANKFORT — The state’s hourly minimum wage would increase for the first time since 2009 under a bill that passed the House last week by a 54-44 vote.


Under House Bill 1, sponsored by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, Kentucky’s minimum wage would increase in increments from the current rate of $7.25 up to $10.10. The bill calls for the minimum wage to rise to $8.20 an hour this year, then to $9.15 an hour in July 2015, before ending at $10.10 an hour in 2016. It would also require Kentucky workers be paid equal wages for equal work, regardless of sex, race, or national origin, with a few exceptions.


The bill was amended by the House to exempt employees of what Stumbo called “mom-and-pop businesses” with average annual gross sales of $500,000 or less for the last five years (excluding excise tax) from the proposed wage increase.


Stumbo said a minimum wage worker in Kentucky currently earns around $15,080 a year. More than 400,000 Kentuckians—which is a little over 9 percent of the state’s total population—would be affected by an increase in the minimum wage, Stumbo said, adding that a large percentage of affected workers would be women.


“I believe those are small increases for the increased morale and work productivity you will see,” said Stumbo.


Opponents of the legislation included House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, who said HB 1 would ultimately increase the state’s minimum wage by 39 percent. That, he explained, would burden entities like local governments and public school districts—the latter which he said would be impacted by more than $40 million over the next decade, should HB 1 pass.


While HB 1 does not address an increase in the minimum wage for tipped workers, such as restaurant servers, another bill passed by a vote of 57-40 in the House today that would. HB 191, sponsored by Rep. Will Coursey, D-Symsonia, would raise that 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, addressed in HB 1.


Both bills now go to the Senate.


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