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State House votes to repeal youth and training wage

Delaware Public Media

House lawmakers voted to remove the youth and training minimum wage after a heated debate Thursday afternoon.


The youth and training wage allows employers to give people under 18 and those in their first three months on the job fifty cents below the state minimum wage.


It was created three years ago as a compromise after negotiations stalled over increasing the minimum wage to $9.25 an hour.


State Rep. Kim Williams' (D-Stanton/Newport) bill would remove those wages, arguing they are unfair to younger workers who need the money to support their family, and seasonal workers who may work less than three months in a row.


But State Rep. Michael Ramone (R-Pike Creek), original author of the youth and training wage law, argues those lower wages make sense for many young people.


“Many people get a job because Moms and Dads want me to go out and get used to what it’s like to get up in the morning and be responsible and serve and learn the value of money,” Ramone says. “So therefore everyone getting a quote, a livable wage, isn’t necessary.”


Ramone’s argument echoes sentiments raised in the debate over raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour. His Republican colleagues in the Senate argue most minimum wage earners are teenagers.


But according to the Federal Bureau of Labor and Statistics, teenagers make up less than one fifth of minimum wage earners nationwide.


State Rep. Eric Morrison (D-Newark) says it was a mistake to pass that, arguing it hurts many workers who need the money the most.


“You know, in terms of seasonal workers, you know when we’re talking about 90 days a lot of times that’s all they work so they’re getting paid a sub-minimum wage for that entire time,” he says.


House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach) struggled to keep lawmakers focused on the bill, and avoid debate about raising the state minimum wage to $15 per hour.


The bill passed without Republican support and now heads to the State Senate.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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