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A bill that would bump the state minimum wage up to $9.50 an hour has cleared the floor of the Minnesota House.

House passes minimum wage increase off the floor

Rep. Ryan Winkler

A bill that would bump the state minimum wage up to $9.50 an hour has cleared the floor of the Minnesota House.

The bill, authored by Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, passed off the floor on a 68-62 vote. Three DFLers — Reps.  Gene Pelowski of Winona, Paul Rosenthal of Bloomington and Yvonne Selcer of Minnetonka — joined all Republicans in voting against the bill.

The state minimum wage of $6.15 per hour hasn’t been raised since 2005, even though most employers pay workers at the federal rate of $7.25. Under Winkler’s bill, the minimum wage would climb to $9.50 per hour by 2015 for large employers, defined as those with annual revenues of more than $500,000. The bill also includes provisions for overtime and parental leave, after Winkler merged an additional minimum wage bill authored by DFL Rep. Jason Metsa.

“Members, it’s time Minnesota took action on raising the minimum wage,” Winkler said. “A raise in the minimum wage will contribute significantly to an increase in quality of life and increased demand for goods.”

Republicans countered that raising the mandatory wage floor will discourage companies from hiring additional workers. “We have to stop the war on work,” said Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa. “We have to stop passing legislation that makes it more and more difficult for the people in our state to employ people.”

Several minor amendments were adopted to the bill during the debate. Under current law, agriculture workers start earning overtime after a 48-hour work week. Winkler’s bill attempted to lower that number to 40 hours per week, but a successful amendment from Rep. Jeanne Poppe, DFL-Austin,  kept current law in place. That amendment passed on a 99-30 vote.

Rep. Andrea Kieffer, R-Woodbury, brought a so-called “tipped-tier employees” amendment, under which employees who receive tips would be paid a base minimum wage of $7.25 per hour if their wages and reported tips total $12.00 an hour or more. Tipped employees who earn less than $12.00 total with their wages and reported tips would be paid Winkler’s rate of $9.50 per hour. The amendment was supported by the Minnesota Restaurant Association, but failed on a 65-65 vote. Six DFLers joined all Republicans in voting in favor of the amendment.

A Senate bill that would raise the minimum wage to $7.75 an hour is expected to be taken up on the floor next week.

About Paul Demko and Briana Bierschbach

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