By Derrick DePledge
Dozens of activists with the “Hawaii Needs A Raise” coalition held a rally at the state Capitol on Wednesday afternoon where they called for a $10.10 minimum wage, a tie to the Consumer Price Index and the end of the tip credit.
The activists marched to state Sen. David Ige’s and state Rep. Sylvia Luke’s offices and delivered oversized letters urging them to hear the new Senate and House drafts of the minimum wage and not the bill left over from conference last session.
“There’s research that shows if you increase the minimum wage to $10.10, that’s enough to lift a household of three out of poverty,” said Scott Morishige, the executive director of PHOCUSED, a social-service advocacy group.
Ige said Wednesday that he had not decided how to proceed. “The fastest way to increase the minimum wage in Hawaii is to deal with the bill in conference, and I issued the statement to that effect,” he said. “That’s not the only way.”
Sen. Clayton Hee and many of the labor and social-service advocates interpreted Ige's statement on Tuesday about using last session's bill as an option as a signal that he would not hear the new Senate draft.
Hee took to the Senate floor on Wednesday and put Ige and other senators on notice about his position. He said the new Senate draft is a “dramatic departure” from the bill in conference last session. He said he would not give prior concurrence to Ige, if he were to hold a hearing, to change the new draft and alter the amount of the minimum wage increase, the link to the Consumer Price Index, and the elimination of the tip credit. He invited senators to debate those issues once the bill reaches the Senate floor.
Committee chairmen generally have to agree to substantive changes in bills they have jurisdiction over as the bills move through the committee process.
“Let us do what we were elected to do,” Hee said of a floor debate. “Debate that issue right here on the blue carpet.”