Health & Human Services

Minimum-Wage Bill Dies in Tennessee

February 27, 2014
 

An attempt to raise the minimum wage in Tennessee by $1 an hour for workers who have not been offered health insurance was turned back Wednesday.

Legislation that could have raised hourly wages for thousands workers in the state failed on a 3-2 vote along party lines, with Democrats supporting the measure and Republicans voting it down.

Committee members spent only about five minutes debating the bill, which would have established a minimum wage in Tennessee but had little chance of passing. The measure’s sponsor, state Rep. Mike Turner of Old Hickory, said he had hoped to convince at least one Republican member of the committee to sign on.

“That’s why we play the game,” said Turner, the House Democratic Caucus chairman. “Tennessee beat Vanderbilt every year for 20-something years, and then they beat them one year. So who knows?”

House Bill 1694 would have required employers to pay their workers at least $8.25 an hour starting July 1, unless they also offer them health insurance. The Affordable Care Act requires most businesses to provide health insurance for employees, but because those mandates have been delayed, the law would have no immediate impact on the bill, Turner told the subcommittee.

Tennessee is one of only five states without its own minimum wage law. Four states have minimum wages that are less than the federal standard of $7.25, while 20 others have set their minimum wages equal to federal requirement.

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