By Derrick DePledge
The state Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee moved out a bill Thursday that would increase the minimum wage, the first step in the committee review process.
The bill now heads to the Senate Ways and Means Committee, where Sen. David Ige, the committee's chairman, has signed on to a separate minimum wage bill with Senate President Donna Mercado Kim.
Both Ige, who is running for governor, and Kim, who is running for Congress, have to be cognizant of the politics of the minimum wage debate. Gov. Neil Abercrombie, President Barack Obama and Democrats in Hawaii and across the nation have made a minimum wage increase a priority this year.
The Senate was widely viewed as the obstacle to a minimum wage increase last session after senators wanted to increase the tip credit to $2, up from 25 cents. The House would only go as high as 35 cents.
Hee, the main Senate negotiator, was not one of the advocates for a $2 tip credit. The bill Hee moved out of his committee Thursday eliminates the tip credit entirely.
Ige and Kim's version has a Senate JDL referral, but Hee said that the bill that advanced Thursday was the only minimum wage bill he planned to hear.