Sen. Reginald Thomas pre-files bill to increase minimum wage in Kentucky to $15 by 2025

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Senator Reginald Thomas, D-Lexington, today pre-filed a bill to raise the minimum wage for workers in Kentucky. The bill calls for staggered increases over the next seven years, bringing the minimum wage up to $15 an hour in 2025.

“This issue, in my opinion, should be a top economic priority of the General Assembly,” said Senator Thomas. “This one piece of legislation could do a great deal to help Kentucky families. That in itself is a huge reason to raise the minimum wage, but there are innumerable additional reasons for an increase. An increase would raise the economic activity in the commonwealth and spur job growth in our communities. It would help to reduce class inequality. It would allow more people to afford housing and everyday essentials. It would reduce the number of families dependent on government assistance and would lead to healthier Kentuckians.”

Senator Reginald Thomas

BR 65 would increase the minimum wage incrementally from $7.25 an hour to $8.20 beginning July 1, 2018, then to $9.15 in July 2019, $10.10 in 2020, $11 in 2021, $12.05 in 2022, $13.10 in 2023, $13.95 in 2024, and finally to $15 an hour in 2025.

Further, the bill would increase the minimum hourly wage for tipped workers. If it passes, employers would be required to pay tipped staff $2.13 an hour, beginning on the effective date of this bill. As of July 2019, the employer would be required to pay not less than $3.05 an hour, then not less than $3.95 in 2020 and not less than $4.90 in July 2021.

Excluded from this wage increase would be small businesses, including retail stores, service industries, hotels, motels, and restaurant operations, that earn less than $500,000 in annual gross sales for five years before the increase.

Thomas’ bill does not restrict the power of any city, county, urban-county government, charter county government, consolidated local government, or unified local government to adopt and enforce minimum wage rate ordinances in excess of the requirements of BR 65.

“Raising the minimum wage would be good for Kentucky’s families – all of Kentucky’s families including those in far western and far eastern Kentucky and those in central and northern Kentucky,” said Senator Thomas. “It is just the right thing for us to do.”

Thomas filed similar legislation in the 2017 Legislative Session. The bill was assigned to a committee but did not receive a hearing. Thomas hopes that is not the case in 2018. He says this issue needs to be examined, discussed and moved on by the legislature. The last increase to minimum wage in Kentucky approved by the state legislature was in 2007.

“I hope we get the opportunity to vet this issue in committee and again on the Senate floor in the upcoming session,” said Thomas. “This bill is important to Kentucky families.”

BR 65 will be considered during the 2018 Regular Session, which will convene January 2.

From Legislative Research Commission

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