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Minimum wage increase stalls in House committee

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DOVER, Del. (AP) — Legislation that would increase Delaware’s current $8.25 minimum wage by $2 over four years has stalled in the General Assembly.

The bill, which passed the Democrat-led Senate in January, was roundly criticized by small business owners and other opponents Wednesday at a House economic development committee hearing.

With the committee poised to reject the bill and not release it for a floor vote, the chief House sponsor asked that the panel to take no action, promising to seek a compromise with opponents.

The proposal already had drawn heated discussion in the Senate. To boost the chances of passage, the chief Senate sponsor withdrew a provision mandating cost-of-living adjustments tied to Social Security benefit increases starting in 2021 and postponed the start of the annual 50-cent increases until 2017 — instead of this year.

Supporters say the measure would help struggling low-wage earners. Opponents say it would lead to businesses cutting jobs and hiring fewer workers, especially young people. They also argue that any wage increase would be passed on to consumers, making goods and services more expensive and reducing the purchasing power of the very people it is purportedly intended to help.

Democratic Gov. Jack Markell has not said whether he supports the bill.

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