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Kentucky Minimum Wage Bill Passes State House, Uncertain In Senate

Senate President Robert Stivers, right
Senate President Robert Stivers, right

A bill that would increase Kentucky’s minimum wage to $10.10 over the course of three years has passed the state House of Representatives.

A similar version of the bill passed the House last year but died in the Senate

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Democrat from Prestonsburg, sponsored the bill. He says the bill didn’t gain traction in the Republican-led Senate because it was an election year.

“It was a political issue, it was a big political year,” Stumbo said on the House floor. “Well, that election has come and gone, the bill was not adopted. So this year let’s make it different: I challenge you to do, those of you who were here in 2007, to do what you did back then.”

In 2007, the Kentucky legislature passed a law that tied the state’s minimum wage to the federal minimum wage rate, which is currently $7.25 per hour.

Senate President Robert Stivers, a Republican from Manchester, said the minimum wage hike didn’t have much of a chance in the Senate.

“ I don’t think that’s the direction we need to be looking at high wage jobs, and I say high wage jobs, I want to make that clear, not creating a culture of minimum wage jobs,” Stivers said.

During last year’s General Assembly, Stivers had hinted that the Senate might consider a minimum wage bill, however that didn’t happen.

In November,  Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota voted to raise the minimum wage in their states.

During a floor debate over the bill, Rep. Stan Lee, a Republican from Lexington, accused House majority members of attacking business owners who were worried about an increase in costs.

Under the bill, businesses with sales of less than $500,000 per year would be exempted from state’s minimum wage law. Wages would revert to the federal rate, $7.25 per hour.

The bill also contains a provision that guarantees equal pay for men and women.

“I think it’s about time that Kentucky stepped into the 21st Century and recognize that work that is dominated by women in the state of Kentucky is the same as work that is dominated by men,”  said Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, a Democrat from Louisville.

The House bill would raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.20 in July 2015, $9.15 in July 2016; and $10.10 on July 1, 2017.