Topeka A key legislator said Friday that a bill to increase the state minimum wage, which at $2.65 per hour is the lowest among the 45 states that have a state minimum wage, is dead for the session.
State Sen. David Wysong, R-Mission Hills, and chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said he will ask that the issue be studied by an interim committee after the current legislative session ends.
The Commerce Committee conducted a public hearing earlier this week on Senate Bill 160, which would have raised the $2.65 per hour state minimum wage to $7.25 per hour on Sept. 1, which is what the federal minimum wage will be at that time.
Labor and living wage advocates supported the bill, while business groups opposed an increase and recommended abolishing the state minimum wage altogether. According to the Department of Labor, approximately 20,000 Kansans are not covered by the federal minimum wage and are paid the state rate.
Wysong said he asked members of the committee whether they wanted to work on the bill. “The committee was all over the board,” Wysong said. Some wanted to raise the state minimum wage, some wanted to abolish it, while others wanted to increase it in stages, he said.
He said the $2.65 per hour rate was an “embarrassment to the state of Kansas,” but that he, too, was undecided about whether to increase the state minimum wage or just abolish it as five other states have done. Those are Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Despite Wysong’s comments, state Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, a sponsor of the bill, said she believed the committee may still act on the measure during the session because there is interest on the part of some committee members to work on the issue.