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Two Utah lawmakers present different bills to raise minimum wage



SALT LAKE CITY  – Two Utah representatives are presenting different bills to raise the state’s minimum wage.

A Wednesday release says Representatives Clare Collard and Ashlee Matthews, both freshmen legislators, the bills “address the lack of a livable minimum wage requirement in Utah.”

“Utah’s current minimum wage of $7.50 an hour aligns with the baseline federal standard, but is significantly lower than 29 other states and has not increased with inflation since 2008,” the pair says.

House Bill 284, sponsored by Rep. Collard, proposes to incrementally increase Utah’s annual minimum wage starting at $12 an hour on or before July 1, 2021, and increasing it annually to reach $15 an hour by or before July 1, 2026.

The bill also raises the minimum wage for tipped employees to $5 an hour from the current minimum wage of $2.13 an hour as required under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

“This gives Utah the chance to lead out as a family-friendly state,” said Rep. Collard about her bill. “Gradually increasing Utah’s minimum wage over the next few years will boost our economy and give all Utahns the opportunities they need to thrive.  It will also bring Utah up to speed with where we need to be in the competitive marketplace.

Rep. Matthews’ ‘Liveable Wage Amendments’, while not yet numbered, takes a different approach.

According to the release, the proposed bill sets a staggered schedule of minimum wage rates that would vary between urban counties and rural counties. Employers within an urban growth boundary of a metropolitan service would gradually be required to pay employees $10.75 an hour by 2028.

Employers within a nonurban county would have to pay employees at least $9.25 an hour by 2028, according to the bill. After 2028, the bill instructs the Department of Workforce Services to adjust Utah’s minimum wage rate annually for inflation.

“This is long overdue,” says Rep. Matthews. “We need a sophisticated approach to regulating wages that accounts for where you live in our state. Many Utahns are not able to pay their bills, pay for rent, even as they work multiple jobs. Having a job should lift you out of poverty, not keep you in it.”

The Biden Administration is also considering raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour incrementally as part of a COVID-19 relief package.

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