Minimum Wage Debate Continues in NH, Vt., Mass. Legislatures

A New Hampshire legislative committee Tuesday considers a raise for its state’s lowest-paid workers. Lawmakers across New England are looking at the same issue, with lots of negotiating still to come.

Employers in the Granite State are bound only by the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. The Democratic-controlled New Hampshire House has voted to set a state wage at $9.00 – phased in over a couple years. This week the Finance Committee for the GOP-led Senate will look at the bill.

In Vermont, the two chambers appear to agree the wage should go up, the only question is how quickly. The House wants to raise it to $10.10 an hour starting next January, while a Senate committee on Friday opted for a more gradual increase.

In Massachusetts, the debate has been sidetracked by a parliamentary tiff between the House and Senate, and the question of whether an increase should be coupled in the same legislation with changes to unemployment insurance.

Connecticut already dealt with the issue. The governor in March signed legislation raising the minimum wage there to $10.10 an hour by 2017.