$15 a Hour Minimum Wage Heads to Governor to be Signed into Law

Posted on 06-20-2021

House Democrats Defeat Amendments to Help Small Businesses, Non-profits, and Report on the Impacts of the Hike
JUNE 18, 2021 — After clearing the House of Representatives on Thursday evening, a bill seeking to raise Delaware’s minimum wage to $15 an hour is heading to the governor’s desk for his expected signature.
The legislation calls for the state’s current $9.25 per hour minimum wage to be raised by a total of 62% in four increments over three years. The first increase of a $1.25 per hour will take effect on New Year’s Day, 2022. The $15 per hour minimum wage will be fully implemented on January 1, 2025.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Delaware becomes the eighth state to commit to phasing-in a $15 an hour minimum wage. California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York previously took such action.
Delaware’s minimum wage hike was passed exclusively on the votes of the legislature’s 40 Democratic lawmakers, who maintained it was needed to help the least skilled workers pay for basic amenities.
General Assembly Republicans said the $15 per hour rate was arbitrary, that the burden of paying for it would fall hardest on small businesses struggling to recover from the COVID-19 disruption, and that the initiative was likely to harm many of the people it is intended to help.
According to a report released by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office in February on a federal $15 an hour minimum wage proposal closely resembling the Delaware bill, the agency concluded that for every nine people the wage hike would raise out of poverty, 14 jobs would be lost.
House Republicans introduced six amendments — and supported a seventh sponsored by State Rep. Sherae’a Moore (D-Middletown) — intended to modestly modify the proposal to help struggling small businesses and non-profit agencies, as well as collect data on the impact of the legislation. All seven proposals (listed below) were defeated by House Democrats.
House Amendment 1 – State Rep. Lyndon Yearick (R-Camden/Wyoming): Sought to delay the implementation of the bill by one year to provide more time to recovering businesses.
House Amendment 2 – State Rep. Mike Ramone (R-Pike Creek South): This amendment would have deleted the last year of the wage hike proposal, resulting in a new $13.25 per hour minimum on January 1, 2024. This amount would have exceeded the minimum wage’s highest historic purchasing power set in 1968 (a present day value of approximately $12.35).
House Amendment 3 – State Rep. Mike Smith (R-Pike Creek Valley): This amendment would have allowed an exemption to small businesses of 100 or fewer employees, allowing them to pay their employees 85% of the minimum wage rate ($12.75 when the $15 per hour minimum was fully implemented).
House Amendment 4 – State Rep. Ruth Briggs King (R-Georgetown, Long Neck): This amendment would have provided a limited exemption to non-profit organizations, allowing them to pay their employees 85% of the minimum wage rate.
House Amendment 5 – State Rep. Bryan Shupe (R-Milford South): This amendment would have required the Controller General to make annual reports to the General Assembly on the actual fiscal impacts of the minimum wage hike, including costs associated with resulting salary and wage compression issues that were not included in the fiscal note of the bill.
House Amendment 6 – State Rep. Bryan Shupe (R-Milford South): This amendment would have required the Controller General facilitate annual reports to the General Assembly on the economic impact of the minimum wage hike.
House Amendment 9 – State Rep. Sherae’a Moore (D-Middletown): For small businesses with 20 or fewer employees, this amendment would have delayed the start of the minimum wage hike implementation by one year