The seat was still warm for Representative Lynn Hemingway (Democrat – Millcreek), who returned to his old seat this session after it was unceremoniously vacated by Justin Miller, and he hasn’t missed a beat. Hemingway is picking up on an issue he has long fought for that affects many Utahns – earning a fair wage for a hard day’s work.
HB 195 – Living Wage Amendments raises the minimum wage for a private or public employee to $12.00 per hour. The bill also sets wages for tipped employees at $5.00 per hour. Current wages are $7.25 and $2.13, respectively. HB 195 also calls for the minimum wage to automatically increase by a percentage equal to the percentage difference between the average of the Consumer Price Index for the two preceding calendar years and the Consumer Price Index for 2015, beginning January 1, 2018.
[pullquote]No one willing to work should have to languish in poverty, but the reality is that many families and children suffer due to an outdated minimum wage rate. Representative Hemingway is trying once again to raise the standard.[/pullquote]The question of raising the minimum wage has become a hot-button issue in American politics. In an era beset by a shrinking middle class, several states and cities have sought to help stem losses by increasing wages. Between 2014 and 2015, eleven states increased their minimum wage through legislative or ballot actions, with nine other states making automatic adjustments.
Buy it isn’t just states, San Francisco elected to raise their minimum wage to $15 per hour, which will go into effect July 1, 2018. The cities of Los Angeles and Seattle have approved similar measures.
With the federal minimum wage having not risen since 2009 and Washington in a perpetual state of gridlock, it is important for states to remedy the situation themselves.
And the teenager who wants to buy video games is not the person who benefits from receiving a living wage for their labor – it would throw a lifeline to working-class Utahns.
In this day and age, $7.25 per hour simply isn’t cutting it. Real estate prices continue to rise and vacancy rates are at historic lows. Finding a decent apartment or house in this city is becoming harder each day. Increasing wages would also spur economic activity. Hard working families are being left out in the cold because businesses have been able to take advantage of low wages – had minimum wage kept up with inflation, it would be closer to $10.50 an hour.
Raising the minimum wage will certainly not solve these problems by any stretch of the imagination, it is a necessary step in that direction.
To contact Representative Hemingway, click here or call 801-231-2153 (Cell).
|Impact on Average Utahn||0-1-2-3-4-5|
|Need for Legislation||0-1-2-3-4-5|