N.H. House and Senate vote down bills to increase minimum wage

Last modified: 3/14/2015 5:08:24 PM
Senate and House Republicans voted down several bills that aimed to re-establish and raise the state’s minimum wage from its current level of $7.25, one of Gov. Maggie Hassan’s stated priorities.

Republicans argued the legislation would hurt business, and some said it is a decision better left to lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

“Lifting up the economy, that is how we solve this problem,” said Wolfeboro Sen. Jeb Bradley, the Republican majority leader.

A vote in the Senate yesterday fell along party lines and killed a bill sponsored by Sen. Donna Soucy, a Manchester Democrat, that would have set the state’s minimum wage at $8.25 and increased it to $10 by 2018.

Three bills to raise the minimum wage were introduced in the state House, and all three were defeated this week.

One proposal would have incrementally raised the wage to $14.25 by 2018, while prescribing additional adjustments in the coming years “for cost of living based on the consumer price index.” The 198-145 House vote to kill that bill fell mostly along party lines, with Republicans opposing the raise and Democrats supporting it.

Another House bill would have raised the minimum wage to $16, and a third would have incrementally raised it to $10 by 2018. Both of those were defeated on voice votes.

Raising the state’s minimum wage was one of the priorities Hassan outlined in her January inaugural address, and it is a goal shared by Democratic leaders in both the House and Senate.

“It is disappointing that Senate Republicans voted down a commonsense measure to restore and increase New Hampshire’s minimum wage,” Hassan said yesterday in a statement.

“Individuals working full time in New Hampshire should be able to earn enough to pull themselves above the federal-poverty threshold and support their families.”

The House passed a minimum wage bill last year, but it was killed in the Senate.

New Hampshire relies on the federal minimum wage of $7.25 after the Legislature repealed the state’s own minimum wage in 2011, which was set at the federal level.

New Hampshire is one of 31 states across the country – and the only one in New England – that does not have a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Maine’s is $7.50, while Connecticut and Vermont have the highest minimum wages in the region at $9.15.

(Staff writer Casey McDermott contributed to this report. She can be reached at 369-3306 or cmcdermott@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @caseymcdermott. Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or amorris@cmonitor.com.)

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