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Politics & Government

Minimum wage bill advances through House committee

Tom Byrne
Delaware Public Media

Debate on a bill lifting Delaware’s minimum wage up to $15 an hour moved to the House Economic Development Committee Wednesday.


The measure is in the House after passing the state Senate last month.


Lawmakers fought over the timing of the bill, with Republican legislators saying it’s not fair to small businesses during the throes of a pandemic.


Rep. Larry Lambert (D-Claymont) refutes that, saying the GOP never supports bills like this.


“And there were excuses when we had prosperity, when we had economic growth,” Lambert said. “Eleven consecutive years of economic growth was not a good time to provide, to share the prosperity that the labor of our minimum wage workers had earned.”


It would move Delaware’s minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour by 2025, matching wage increases in neighboring states, such as Maryland and New Jersey.


Tatum Schutt, a college student in Wilmington says falling behind those neighboring states has consequences.


“Note this policy in our state is driving young people like me away from Delaware, and we’re the very young people that are gonna push Delaware further later,” Shutt said. “My generation is the one that’s gonna have to support the near majority of retired Delaware citizens later on.”


While a majority of Delaware citizens aren’t retired, more than a quarter of them are according to census data. That’s higher than the national average.


Others argued  now is the perfect time to raise the minimum wage as many Delawareans are struggling to stay afloat during the COVID-19 recession.


Opponents included members of the small business community and restaurant owners, who say they won’t be able to afford the increases the bill lays out.


Democratic lawmakers countered those arguments, saying the whole point of increasing the minimum wage is to drive economic growth and put those extra dollars back into the economy.


The bill was released from committee along party lines with no Republican support.

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