The Kansas House on Wednesday rejected an attempt to increase the state minimum wage, which at $2.65 per hour is the lowest in the nation.
Supporters of the increase said it was a moral issue to help low-income workers.
"This is a crime against humanity," said Rep. Geraldine Flaharty, D-Wichita. "Kansans deserve better."
The state minimum wage affects about 19,000 workers, mostly in service or agricultural jobs, who aren't covered by the federal minimum wage law, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
But opponents of the increase in the state minimum wage said it would be too costly to small businesses and cause employers to lay off workers.
Rep. Benjamin Hodge, R-Overland Park, argued against the increase, saying the state should avoid "European-style socialist bills."
An earlier motion to do away with a state minimum wage failed 56-62.
Twenty-eight states have state minimum wage rates higher than the federal minimum.
Sixteen states have set their state rate at the federal wage and five have no minimum wage - Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Of states with a state minimum, only Kansas' is lower than the federal wage. Kansas hasn't increased its minimum wage since 1988.
Congress also is considering increasing the federal minimum to $7.25 per hour, which would be the first increase in 10 years.
For House Democrats, defeat of the increase cut down one of their goals for the session.
How they voted
How area legislators voted on the bill to increase the state minimum wage from $2.65 per hour to the federal minimum wage level of $5.15 per hour.Voting yes, to increase the wage:Barbara Ballard, D-LawrenceAnthony Brown, R-EudoraMarti Crow, D-LeavenworthPaul Davis, D-LawrenceTom Holland, D-Baldwin CityAnn Mah, D-TopekaCandy Ruff, D-LeavenworthTom Sloan, R-LawrenceVoting no, against the increase:Lee Tafanelli, R-OzawkieJoe Humerickhouse, R-Osage CityKenny Wilk, R-Lansing