Plans to increase the minimum wage in Hawaii to $15 an hour advanced in the state Senate on Tuesday, but were blocked in the state House.
The effort is part of a national movement designed to reduce income inequity by ensuring that all full-time workers make enough to afford housing and other basics. It is opposed by small businesses, especially restaurants, who say continuing wage increases will force them to raise prices or lay off workers.
The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a measure that would raised have the minimum wage in the state to $15 by 2021.
Hawaii's current minimum wage is $9.25
The House Labor committee deferred a similar measure indefinitely.
The committee chairman said he held back the minimum wage increase because the committee did approve what would be Hawaii’s first mandatory sick leave law.
It would apply only to larger companies with minimum wage employers who don’t already offer sick leave. Employers could also avoid the mandatory five days sick leave if they raise wages above the minimum.
House Labor Chairman Aaron Johanson said he felt that it would be too difficult for businesses to implement both higher wages and the sick leave requirement. Both pieces of legislation still face several hearings and votes on the House and Senate floors.