February 1st Legislative Alerts
Senate Labor Committee to Hear Minimum Wage Bills - URGENT
On Wednesday, February 3rd at 4:00 pm, the Senate Labor Committee will take testimony on S.1, S.77, S.136 and S.137. All of these bills relate to proposed changes in minimum wage. Members of the public wishing to testify may submit written testimony by email to SLegislation@rilegislature.gov Testimony submitted prior February 3rd at 2:00 pm, will be provided to the members of the committee at the hearing and will be included in the meeting records. Testimony submitted after that time will be placed on file. If you prefer to testify verbally, please send an email to Slegislation@rilegislature.gov and state in the email the bill number, whether you are For/Against the bill, your name and phone number (to be reached for your testimony), and your affiliation: (if any). Requests to testify verbally must be submitted by Tuesday, February 2nd at 4:00 pm. Should you wish to testify in writing or verbally, the best information you can provide to the committee is how the change in the wage will specifically affect your business. If your business pays premium pay under Rhode Island law, please mention it in your testimony and highlight that Rhode Island is the only state that still requires premium pay to be given to employees who work Sundays and holidays as a normal part of their 40 hour work week.
Rhode Island’s current minimum wage, $11.50 per hour, went into effect October 1, 2020.
S.1 proposes to increase the minimum wage to $12.25 on October 1, 2021, $13.00 on October 1, 2022, $14.00 on October 1, 2023 and $15.00 on October 1, 2024.
S.77 proposes to increase the minimum wage, starting January 1, 2022, based on the average increase in CPI over the previous four years. The intent of the bill may be to make that adjustment each year as the language states that in no event will the minimum wage decrease if the average CPI decreases.
S.136 creates an 11 member commission to study the minimum wage issue and report recommendations back to the Senate by May 4, 2021.
S.137 establishes a system of tax credits for businesses based on the amount paid to employees. Upon passage, an employer who pays the $11.50 minimum wage would receive a tax credit of $1 for each hour paid to those minimum wage employees. If the minimum wage increases to $13, then the employer paying the $13 minimum wage would qualify for a tax credit of $2 per hour paid to each minimum wage employee. At a minimum wage of $14, the employer could claim a tax credit of $3 per hour.
As background for this discussion, Rhode Island currently has the 14th highest minimum wage in the country. (Although New York, at $12.50 for most of the state, is complicated, as NYC has its own rules for different employers.)
Massachusetts raised its minimum wage to $13.50 as of January 1, 2021 and will statutorily go to $14.25 January 1, 2022 and to $15.00 January 1, 2023. Massachusetts currently has the third highest minimum wage requirement in the country – following the District of Columbia ($15.00) and Washington state ($13.69). Connecticut is currently at $12.00 per hour and is set to go to $13.00 August 1, 2021; $14.00 July 1, 2022; and $15.00 June 1, 2023. Connecticut is tied for 9th highest minimum wage in the country.
President Biden has called for an increase in the federal minimum wage which is $7.25 per hour. His plan suggests an increase to $9.50 upon passage, followed by increases each year thereafter reaching $15 an hour in four years. Eighteen states have a $7.25 per hour minimum wage.