Wednesday, July 30, 2014         

 Print   Email   Comment | View 20 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

House panel approves minimum wage increase

By Cathy Bussewitz


Lawmakers in the state House of Representatives have advanced a proposal to raise the minimum wage more slowly than what the state Senate had suggested.

The House Labor Committee approved the bill unanimously Tuesday. It advances next to the Finance Committee before facing a final House vote to be sent to the governor's desk.

The minimum wage in Hawaii has stood at $7.25 per hour for the past seven years. But supporters of the hike say the cost of living has increased. The bill would raise the minimum wage gradually until it reaches $10.10 per hour in 2018, instead of reaching that level by 2017.

In the hearing, the Hawaii Restaurant Association asked the committee to take a more gradual approach to raising the minimum wage.

"The restaurant industry is a significant part of the Hawaii economy," said Roger Morey, representing the association. "Whatever actions you take here in the House are going to have a significant impact on small business."

Hawaii is among the most expensive states to live in the nation.

"You can't understate the national significance of Hawaii going to $10.10 an hour," said Jack Temple, policy analyst for the National Employment Law Project, after the hearing. "This is what the president is calling for and what Congress has been dragging its feet on. This is good news for workers."

It would have been better for workers to have a faster phase-in, but compromise is always a part of the process, Temple said.

The committee also voted to change the tip credit, which under current law allows employers to pay workers $7 an hour instead of $7.25 if they earn at least 25 cents per hour in tips. The House Labor Committee voted to change the way the tip credit is calculated, following a suggestion from the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

The tip credit would be eliminated for workers who earn less than 250 percent of the poverty line, following federal guidelines for the state of Hawaii.

For example, if a waitress earned less than $33,550, the employer would still have to pay the full amount of the minimum wage. The federal poverty level for a single person in the state of Hawaii is $13,420 per year in 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

For those earning more than 250 percent of the poverty level, the tip credit would increase by 25 cents per hour each year to reach $1 per hour in 2018.

It will be challenging for employers to calculate the tip credit fairly, said Janet Mason of the League of Women Voters.

"You can see they're trying to balance the interest of low-wage workers and the employers," she said. "But our position is there shouldn't be a tip credit at all."

 Print   Email   Comment | View 20 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

You must be subscribed to participate in discussions
By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may receive a warning, and if you persist with such comments you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email commentfeedback@staradvertiser.com.
Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.
droid wrote:
The state House proposal is a much more reasonable approach than the state senate. A lot of small businesses are going to struggle to pay more wages without charging customers more to make it the difference.

This bill is artificial inflation at its best. Like the article says, Hawai‘i is already the most expensive state in the nation. With a raise in the minimum wage, prices are guaranteed to skyrocket even more. It’s a no-win situation.
on March 19,2014 | 02:49AM
thos wrote:
“It’s a no-win situation.”


It is a win-win for Democrat Party power brokers who consider it essential to hobble wealth creating free enterprise. Money is power and Democrat Party biggies will not tolerate the mere possibility that rival power centers might arise.

Thus is it necessary for the Democrat Party to keep small business owners under their thumb by attacking their profitability.

on March 19,2014 | 07:09AM
ISCREAM wrote:
The only winner is government who gets a tax increase out of it...the poor will end up paying more, the businesses will end up paying more...government gets more revenue from the people to cover what they have already spent.
on March 20,2014 | 12:35PM
soundofreason wrote:
""You can't understate the national significance of Hawaii going to $10.10 an hour," said Jack Temple,">> And yet, somehow, you just did by NOT mentioning the ADDITIONAL $3 per hour HAWAII (not national) overhead of employer mandated insurance. THAT'S $3 per hour that "Hawaii's leaders" have taken from the paychecks of Hawaii's employees by forcing employers to defer PAYING to employees and, instead, hedge their wages to pay for their insurance. So, all ya out there thinking that your employers are paying for your insurance.......SURPRISE! Thank a legislator.
on March 19,2014 | 06:25AM
poipoo wrote:
Perhaps the employee's share of medical insurance coverage will now go up as a result.
on March 19,2014 | 03:55PM
soundofreason wrote:
Wouldn't count on it though.
on March 19,2014 | 06:23PM
ISCREAM wrote:
Employees should pay for their own insurance anyway...
on March 20,2014 | 12:36PM
808Unionist wrote:
Some House politicians need to lose there jobs over this. I don't understand why they think a tip credit is needed and why the government need an extra year to fully raise the minimum wage. The House Politicians on the Labor Committee could have given the workers a real wages this year. By raising the wages on Big Companies like Walmart and refunded small companies with a tax break, that would have solved that problem. What Politicians should we remove a why? Waikiki Rep. Tom Brower (Sledgehammer Man) is on the the top of my removal list. Time to start recruiting replacements.
on March 19,2014 | 08:29AM
kekelaward wrote:
Yes! Anybody who won't bow to the unions!
on March 19,2014 | 06:12PM
Winston wrote:
Let's call this what it really is, a tax increase on employers and customers of business which employ min wage workers. Congratulations, dot the wealth redistribution geniuses in the legislature for yet again raising the cost of living in Hawaii while, at the same time reducing the number of work hours available to those just entering the job market.
on March 19,2014 | 08:33AM
Ronin006 wrote:
An increase in the minimum wage is much more than that. It will be an increase in the wages of all hourly-paid workers. Everyone currently earning more than the current minimum wage will demand and receive wage increases. It is unreasonable to expect people with good education and work experience to continue working for the same or close to the same wages as people entering the work force with little education and no work experience. The wage disparity which currently exists between the $7.25 minimum wage and higher paid workers will continue to exist with the new $10.10 minimum wage, except that everyone will be making more money AND paying a lot more for everything they buy. Nothing really will change, but it will politicians another opportunity in a few short years to buy votes by pushing for another increase in the minimum wage.
on March 19,2014 | 10:22AM
warriorrebel wrote:
exactly right! politicians know this, they just want votes. think things in Hawaii is expensive now wait until 2018.
on March 19,2014 | 04:22PM
KB wrote:
You are pricing the first job people out of the market That is how student workers learn skills To serve others . so important and getting lets attention .How can they show what they have fortitude discipline follow through ...only school ?aloha
on March 19,2014 | 10:46AM
ISCREAM wrote:
65% of minimum wage earners are high school or college students...not anymore...
on March 20,2014 | 12:37PM
2localgirl wrote:
More people on the street or more with part time jobs. In the end, the owners can't afford a living wage for menial jobs. In other countries, I can't believe what people pay their employees. While living abroad in the 90's, a cashier in a cafe was paid $15 an hr. A CASHIER!!!
on March 19,2014 | 12:18PM
poipoo wrote:
The jury's out on whether this will negatively impact the thousands of small businesses in Hawaii, some whose owners aren't much better off financially than their employees.
on March 19,2014 | 03:53PM
ISCREAM wrote:
The jury really spoke loudly when COSTCO and the other big box retailers endorsed the increase...they realize that it will put their competition, the startup/small business, out of business...leaving them as the only game in town....especially in Hawaii.
on March 20,2014 | 12:39PM
localguy wrote:
25 cents per hour in tips? Really? Which one of our dysfunctional bureaucrats came up with this wild idea? They easily make more than this in an hour. Never, ever, let a bureaucrat get involved with how a business is run. They will kill it with their useless ideas. Then again, when they can't do their own job..........
on March 20,2014 | 12:09AM
ISCREAM wrote:
They essentially took away the tip credit...meaning no one should tip a server...they are getting fully paid for what they do.
on March 20,2014 | 12:40PM
mcc wrote:
Wages need to keep up with the printing presses.
on March 20,2014 | 12:26PM
Latest News/Updates