Minn. House approves higher minimum wage
ST. PAUL - Minnesota's minimum wage will rise each of the next two years if Gov. Tim Pawlenty approves. However, the governor said this noon hour that the bill needs work and he cannot support it in its current form. The House passed a measure Th...
ST. PAUL - Minnesota's minimum wage will rise each of the next two years if Gov. Tim Pawlenty approves.
However, the governor said this noon hour that the bill needs work and he cannot support it in its current form.
The House passed a measure Thursday on an 82-45 vote raising the minimum wage in large businesses from $6.15 to $6.90 an hour on July 24 and $7.90 the following year. Minimum wages in small businesses would go up from the current $5.25 to $5.75 this summer and $6.75 next year.
Bill sponsor Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, said Minnesota has fallen behind other states in minimum wage laws.
"Minnesota has always prided itself on being first with the minimum wage," Rukavina said.
The state is 32nd in the country for big employers and 46th for small ones, he said. If his bill becomes law, he added, the minimum wage would rise to No. 7 nationally for large businesses, but would rise only slightly for small firms.
The vote was largely party line, with Republicans generally opposing the increase.
Pawlenty said he has backed minimum wage increases in the past, but does not support Rukavina's measure.
"The House bill that just passed today is overbaked, it overreaches," Pawlenty told reporters.
Most debate centered on whether restaurant owners could take into account tips. Without that provision, which was not in the bill, waiters and waitresses could make far more money than people like dishwashers, who do not receive tips, Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, said.
"I'm sick of having our small businesses in Minnesota closing their doors" because of laws like Rukavina proposed, McNamara said.
He told of a waitress who ended up making more than $22 an hour, including tips, while dishwashers and others may only earn $8.
Communities near states like Wisconsin and North Dakota are at a disadvantage, Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, said.
Existing law, which does not take tips into account on minimum wage decisions, means a Moorhead restaurant would pay $2.25 an hour more for a waitress than a Fargo restaurant, Lanning said. That, combined with other North Dakota tax advantages, hurts Moorhead firms, he added.
"By driving businesses out of the state, we are increasing the property tax burden in border communities," Lanning said.