This post I’m going to talk about the most recent bills proposed in Congress regarding minimum wage and their current status.
On March 5, 2013, Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat from Iowa, proposed The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013. It has been labeled as S.460 for tracking purposes. The bill proposes an increase of minimum wage 90 days after is has been passed to $8.20, a second increase the first year after passage to $9.15, a third increase the second year after passage to $10.10, and finally yearly increases starting on the third year based on the Consumer Price Index (inflation). It would also increase tipped minimum wage to $3.00 and then annually adjust the wage so it would be equal to 70% of minimum wage.
The same day Sen. Harkin introduced the bill to the Senate, it was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. The current chairman of the committee is Republican Senator Lamar Alexander from Tennessee. The Ranking Minority member is Senator Patty Murray (Democrat) from Washington.
The most recent action taken on the bill was a hearing on March 14, 2013. The purpose of the hearing was to collect information in regards to indexing the minimum wage. A representative from the State of Connecticut (a state that had chosen to index their minimum wage 10 years ago) testified in regards to the process in place and the effects it has had. A representative from The National Restaurant Association, which I mentioned in my last post, also testified against raising minimum wage, citing increases in costs.
Unfortunately, no further action has taken place in regards to this bill. There have been motions placed to continue committee progress by Senator Harkin, but no other reports have been made.
House of Representatives
The Fair Minimum Wage Act (HR.1010) is an identical bill that was introduced to the House of Representatives March 6, 2013 by Representative George Miller, Democrat from California. The bill is truly identical to that proposed in the Senate with the exception of tipped wages. In this bill, the tipped minimum wage (currently $2.13) would increase yearly by $0.85 until it reached 70% of minimum wage, and would be adjusted from that point on increase yearly to remain at 70% on minimum wage.
That same day it was referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce. The current committee was established January 1, 2011 with 40 members, 17 Democrats and 23 Republicans. The current chairman is Representative John Kline, Republican, from Michigan. The Ranking Minority member is Representative George Miller from California. On April 23, 2013, the bill was then referred to the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections.
A motion regarding the bill was placed February 26, 2014 by Representative Timothy Bishop, Republican from New York. The motion was to discharge the committee from reviewing the bill further, taking it from their hands. This would allow it to be reviewed by the full chamber again, and is useful if a committee never takes action on the bill. In order to discharge the bill, however, 218 signatures from Representatives is needed.
The bill was reintroduced February 13, 2015 by Representative Steve Seivers, Republican from Ohio. A hearing occurred on June 3, 2015 for reviewing the rules and regulations for implementing federal minimum wages and hour standards.
Congress could keep a bill in committee indefinitely in order to keep it from being passed. In order to keep things actively moving forward, those in support of the bill need to be vigilant in keeping tabs on the bill.