In little over one hour last week, the Connecticut legislature’s Labor and Public Employees Committee defeated one bill on raising the minimum wage only to adopt a second measure that ordered the same increases.
Both bills called for increasing the minimum wage to $11 per hour in January 2018 with additional $1 a year increases until the minimum wage reaches $15 in 2022. At that point, according to the proposed legislation, increases in the minimum wage would be pegged to the rate of inflation.
The 2016 elections produced a legislative body with a far greater proportion of Republican members – resulting in a measurable shift in the power structure of both the House and Senate. The State Senate is now split equally between the two parties. Democrats hold a slim edge in the House.
The Senate version of the minimum wage bill deadlocked in committee at 2-2, failing to win passage to the full Senate. The House version was approved by a 7-6 vote, thanks to the extra vote of the majority Democrats.
Republicans oppose further increases in the minimum wage on the argument that Connecticut businesses have struggled to recover from the Great Recession and are already burdened by one of the highest minimum wage laws in the nation.
Democrats counter that working families have earned the right to higher wages and that any failure to pass a new wage law will harm those families.
What does all of this mean for Connecticut employers?
Hard to tell.
One thing is certain – with the State Senate split, keep an eye on the State House. That’s where the most aggressive bills on wages and worker rights are expected to originate. And once they clear the House, these bills still have a chance at passage given that Democrats pick up the tie-breaking vote of Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman (D) in that chamber.
In the end – the new balance of power should favor employers – but don’t let your guard down – and stay tuned to these pages for regular updates.
If you have labor or employment law questions we can answer – we hope you will contact us. The attorneys at Kainen, Escalera & McHale do one thing and one thing only – we are an employer defense law firm – in fact, we are one of the largest employer defense law firms in the region. What’s more, each of our attorneys has over 20 years of experience in employment and labor law matters and can provide your business with comprehensive legal counsel ranging from assistance with necessary preventive measures to trial advocacy.
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