Republican legislators upset with bill that aims to overturn minimum wage compromise

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Hocker

Delaware’s Republican legislative leaders are upset over a move by Democrats to scrap a compromise minimum wage bill.

The settlement ended an impasse that occurred after House and Senate Democrats tried to push through a higher minimum wage in the waning hours of the session.

Republicans objected and a deadlock delayed the end of the session.

Republicans criticized a lack of transparency and an attempt to get around legislative rules in the last-minute move.

After hours of negotiations, the measure was ultimately approved, but not before Republicans gained two provisions.

  • Establishing a new “training wage” allowing an employer to pay an adult employee an hourly rate 50 cents under the minimum wage during the first 90 days of employment.
  • Establishing a “youth wage” — allowing an employer to pay an employee, under the age of 18, an hourly wage 50 cents less than the minimum.

House Bill 47 seeks to strike down both provisions. The measure has 35 Democratic sponsors and co-sponsors.

Democrats claim the training and youth wages are largely symbolic and add to the task of administering and enforcing the base wage.

Gov. John Carney’s proposed budget calls for additional positions for labor law enforcement.

Republican legislative leaders disagree, but may not have less clout, since Democrats slightly strengthened their majority.

“The elimination of the training and youth wages hurts young people and the unemployed,” said Senate Minority Leader Gerald Hocker, R-Ocean View, a grocery store owner. “It has been proven that higher government-mandated wages reduce the opportunities for young people to secure their all-important first jobs, which position them for future employment. For the Democrats to do this, especially going back on their word, is unacceptable.”

“If Democratic lawmakers move forward on this bill, it will be a shameful breach of trust,” said House Minority Leader Danny Short, R-Seaford. “They already broke faith last year when they tried to ram their minimum wage bill through the legislature in the middle of the night while most of the state slept. Reneging on the reasonable compromise we struck to end that impasse will destroy their credibility with us.”

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