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Bill to raise minimum wage appears dead for this year

House and Senate negotiators say they have given up on the idea of passing an increase in the state minimum wage this year, a development that apparently derails one of the major priorities of the Hawaii Democratic Party.

House Labor and Public Employment Chairman Aaron Johanson had agreed to increase the minimum from the current $10.10 per hour on a series of steps that would have topped out at $15 an hour in 2024, but said he was unable to get approval for that idea from House leadership.

House lawmakers had proposed in House Bill 1191 to authorize a lower minimum wage of $12.50 an hour for employers who offer health coverage to their workers, but Johanson dropped that idea today after the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations raised concerns about that idea.

“I don’t have money approval on my side, and I’m not sure it’s going to come given the substantive change (in the bill) that has come at this late hour,” said Johanson.

Senate Labor Committee Chairman Brian Taniguchi said that “we’re disappointed by it, but we understand. We struggled to provide some help to employers, but I guess at this point we should move to defer.”

Johanson replied that “this is in much better shape for next year, but unfortunately, I concur.”

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