House committee approves minimum wage hike

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A House committee approved a bill that would raise Minnesota’s minimum wage by about 70 percent over the next three years.

The standard in the state is currently $6.15, although large employers in Minnesota are required to pay the $7.25 minimum wage required by the federal government.

The measure approved by the House Labor, Workforce and Regulated Industries panel would hike the rate paid by large employers in three steps, until it hits $10.55 in August 2015. (Smaller businesses would have to pay $9.)

The committee approved the bill 8-6 on a party line vote, with Republicans opposing it. The measure still needs approval from several other committees to become law.

Debate is heated on the issue: Would a wage hike ultimately cut jobs or boost consumer spending?

The Pioneer Press reports that the House committee heard more testimony on the legislation on Wednesday, during which a religious leader argued that it was a moral issue, while a small business owner said the legislation would put him out of business. A union leader said the measure would ease the suffering of low-wage workers, but a business leader said it would also eliminate jobs, the newspaper reported.

A Minnesota Senate bill would require a much smaller increase, to $7.50.

At the federal level, President Barack Obama has called for an increase in the $7.25 per hour rate. That, too, has gotten a mixed reaction, CBS reported.

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