A minimum wage increase is another step closer to being passed, but the hourly rate has not been decided on yet by legislators.
The Minnesota Senate Democrats passed a minimum wage bill Wednesday on a 39 to 28 party-line vote. Under the Senate bill, the rate goes up to $7.75 by 2015. Last week, the House passed a bill to set the rate at $9.50. The House bill also has new overtime and parental leave rules that the Senate did not include.
Senate Republicans raised concerns about the effect on small businesses. "This isn't a bill to lift people up, said Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, who said the bill will do more harm than good. "This is going to lose jobs, cost jobs. This is a poverty bill. This is another bill of false hope and false promises."
But Senate Democrats argued the increase, although modest, will help families and is long overdue. The last increase was in 2005. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton supports a minimum wage increase, and said he prefers a rate closer to the House bill.
Low -wage workers deserve a fair shake, said Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville.
"This bill is trying to compromise between the reality of what their needs are and the reality of what's out there in the world," Marty said. "I think it's time that we can say we're going to move above the federal minimum wage. These are very slow, very measured steps."
Several Republicans warned about the bill's impact on small businesses and a potential reduction of jobs. DFL Governor Mark Dayton supports a minimum wage increase, and said he prefers a rate closer to the House bill.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this report incorrectly stated that the Senate bill includes a provision that ties future increases in the minimum wage to the inflation rate. That provision is in the House version of the bill but not in the Senate version.