State Chamber takes issue with early morning passage of minimum wage hike

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The Delaware State Chamber of Commerce is taking issue of the last-minute passage of a minimum wage by $1 an hour the space of a year

On the last night of Legislative Session, the Delaware House of Representatives held a 3:30 a.m. Sunday vote to increase Delaware’s minimum wage by 50 cents a year for the next two years to $9.25 an hour.

The 50-cent increases in 2019 are slated for January and October.

“In a dramatic departure from the usual process, members of the House voted to bring SB170 to the floor for action under a suspension of the rules, a process normally reserved for non-controversial bills. What is most disturbing about what happened on July 1, is that members of the general public, and both opponents and supporters of a minimum wage increase, were unable to have their voices heard. Thankfully, a second bill was negotiated to provide alternative wages for training and for teens, but that shouldn’t have been undertaken in the wee hours of the morning,” a Chamber release stated.

The training wage came after Republicans held up a vote of the state bond bill for building projects in the early morning hours.

The Delaware State Chamber has worked over the years, including this year, to let legislators know what it views as the negative impact of raising the minimum wage, and studies showing how it hurts the employees they are trying to help.

Those studies have been contested over the years by backers who point to strong economies in states with the higher base wage.

Efforts to hold the wage at $8.25 an hour seemed to be working out, with the measure bottled up in the General Assembly until the last-minute move by backers led by long-time minimum wage advocate, Sen. Robert Marshall, D-Wilmington.

“It’s unfortunate that businesses will have to decide how to cut additional costs to pay for this added payroll expense. It is imperative that people working full time for minimum wage add to their education and outfit themselves with skills that meet workforce needs in order to improve their personal or family situation,” says theChamber’s new President Michael Quaranta.

The chamber and business groups are facing a rising tide of public support for a higher minimum wage. Neighboring Maryland now pays $9.25 an hour with gradual increases until the $15 an hour mark is reached.

A voter referendum in Arizona led to the state’s current $10 an hour minimum wage, with California now paying $11 an hour. Neighboring Pennsylvania has kept the wage at the federal figure of $7.25, with New Jersey at $8.60.

(A previous version of this story incorrectly listed the scheduling of the increase).

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