CONCORD — The New Hampshire House voted 210-145 on Thursday to support a bill increasing the state’s minimum wage, currently $7.25 an hour, to $12 in three steps over the next three years.

HB 186 cleared the House on a partisan vote, with only two Republicans joining the 208 Democrats. The bill now moves to the Senate.

If the bill becomes law, the minimum wage would rise to $9.50 in 2020; $10.75 in 2021; and $12 in 2022.

Tipped employees will be guaranteed a base rate of not less than 50 percent of the applicable minimum wage.

Teenage employees age 17 and younger would be guaranteed a rate $1 less per hour than the applicable minimum.

An effort by some progressives to add two additional steps, going to $13.50 in 2023 and $15 in 2024, failed 274-79.

“Congress has voted to raise the minimum wage 18 times since World War II, all 18 times unemployment has gone up, youth unemployment and minority rates have all gone up significantly,” said Rep. Max Abramson, R-Seabrook.

“All 18 times businesses have cut back on hiring, reduced hours or closed outright. All 18 times, more people were put out of work or laid off.”

Opponents of the bill argued that businesses are already increasing wages and benefits to attract workers in the state’s tight labor market.

Rep. Brian Sullivan, D-Grantham, agreed with that point, but said it supports the minimum wage increases.

“We are bringing a minimum wage into the realm of what employers are currently paying,” he said. “No one said employers are paying $7.25 an hour, so this is not a dramatic move.”

He offered an olive leaf to those in the Democratic caucus pushing for a more dramatic change.

“For those folks who have been beating the $15-an-hour drum, we hear the drum beat,” he said. “This bill is designed to take us to 2022 and we can reassess three years from now. If we are on the right track, we can continue the path to a higher minimum wage.”

Sunday, October 20, 2019
Saturday, October 19, 2019