[caption id="attachment_188115" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] A bill to study the proposed $15 hourly minimum wage in Delaware was rejected by a House committee Tuesday, clearing one more obstacle from the measure's approval. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS[/caption]
DOVER – A House committee on Tuesday killed a bill that would have delayed consideration on a $15 minimum wage hike in the 2021 legislative session.House Bill 147, sponsored by state Rep. Bryan Shupe (R-Milford), would have required the state to study the economic impact of increasing Delaware’s minimum wage over a five-year period.
[caption id="attachment_211386" align="alignright" width="200"] State Rep. Bryan Shupe[/caption]
“Currently there's been no analysis that has been done locally to measure both the positive and potentially negative impacts that increasing the minimum wage on the public sector and the private sector would have on the state of Delaware,” Shupe said during the virtual House Economic Development Committee meeting.Tuesday’s decision marks one less hurdle for Senate Bill 15, which would raise Delaware’s minimum wage to $15 by 2025. SB15 currently sits in the House Appropriations Committee, having already cleared the Democrat-controlled Senate and the House Economic Development Committee.SB15 would raise the minimum wage by more than $1 per year beginning in 2022. About 150,000 Delawareans would be impacted by the bill, including 35,000 workers currently earning the state’s base pay of $9.25, according to the state labor department. Agriculture and farm workers would be exempt from the bill under Delaware’s labor laws.The economic impact analysis would have taken a minimum of 45 to 90 days to complete, surpassing the General Assembly’s June 30 deadline to vote on SB15. Initial costs of the Controller General analysis were estimated at $45,000 to $85,000, depending on the service provider.The study would have analyzed the wage hike’s impact on state government, employment, wages, prices of goods and services, inflation-adjusted output and the distribution of labor and capital income.Shupe pointed to a Congressional Budget Office report projecting that a federal $15 base pay would increase the wages of 17 million people but possibly cut 1.4 million jobs.“I would like to see if this local data supports that, if it says that our business community will be able to hire people, or are we looking at just like through the National CBO report, that we are actually going to be losing people,” Shupe said.Rep. Paul Baumbach (D-Newark), who voted against HB147, said that what matters in the impact to Delaware is that nearby states like Maryland and New Jersey have higher minimum wages and are on a path to a $15 minimum wage.“I understand your desire for more data. I just do not feel that it would change minds,” Baumbach said during the meeting. “And I think that it would delay what we have. We've been working on a path to $15 an hour for years now, and I am concerned about the impact on the residents of Delaware for a step, whether well-meaning or not, of something that can cause further delay.”If the House Appropriations Committee approves SB15, the bill will head to a House floor vote. Passage there would send it to Gov. John Carney, who has remained noncommittal about whether he would sign it but has appeared more open to doing so than in previous years. Regardless, Democrats hold enough seats to override a veto by the governor if they can keep the caucus together.
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