California lawmakers are considering legislation that would prevent the state from raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.
The legislation is designed to protect workers who earn $10.10 an hour or less, but it also aims to protect the most vulnerable workers, like low-wage earners.
California has not raised the minimum wage since 2008.
The proposal would be modeled after a California bill that has failed to gain traction.
It would also allow workers to opt out of paying the minimum and instead earn up to $12 an hour by making at least one other purchase with their paycheck.
The bill is expected to be introduced by state Assemblymember Dan Bishop, who chairs the state Senate Finance Committee.
The bill would be one of the first major reforms to come out of the current political crisis, which has seen several governors and Democrats join forces to pass a series of expensive measures, including a minimum wage hike.
California has been the first state to pass an increase in the minimum to $10 an, but the effort has been stalled in the Legislature.
Democrats say the measure would have an unintended impact of raising the cost of living, but many of the measures in the bill would raise wages for low- and moderate-income workers.
“This is about ensuring that workers who have traditionally been underpaid, who have been pushed out of low-paying jobs, will have a chance to be able to get back to work,” Assemblymember Diane Russell, a Democrat, told The Hill in an interview.
Bishop said he has “no hesitation” about introducing the bill.
“The bottom line is, we need to help those workers who are underpaid,” he said.
“There are many, many people in our community who work hard, who are not able to afford the rent, who can’t afford the food, who just don’t have a voice, who don’t know where they fit in the workforce, who need help.”
Democrats say the bill, known as the Higher Wage Act, would be a boon to businesses and boost wages for the state economy.
California’s minimum is set at $10, but some states and cities have increased their minimum wages above that.
A minimum wage increase would be particularly important for low wage workers because many are unemployed and rely on the tips they earn from restaurants and bars to support themselves.
But even with an increase, the legislation is unlikely to get a favorable reception from Democrats in the Senate.
A group of Senate Democrats have expressed reservations about a $10 minimum wage bill because they say the legislation will hurt workers who make less than $15 per hour.
“I think the bill is a step in the right direction, but I also think it’s going to have unintended consequences,” Russell said.
In the House, the bill has faced criticism from the Democratic Caucus and a coalition of labor groups, who argue that it will hurt low-income residents who rely on public assistance programs.
Democrats are looking to get the measure passed on a party-line vote this week, but there is little hope of success on a Republican-controlled Senate.
Many economists believe that the minimum should be raised to $13, but not more than $10 because some states, like New York, have a $9 minimum wage.