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Bill aimed at raising minimum wage in Utah put on hold

A bid to raise minimum wage in Utah is being put on hold. (PHOTO: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A bid to raise the minimum wage in Utah is being put on hold. HB284 is sponsored by Rep. Clare Collard, D-Magna. She argues Utah’s minimum wage, which is currently set at $7.25, isn’t sufficient for workers. 

Discussion on minimum wage continues… bill on hold 

“I have people in my district who are working two and three jobs to keep a roof over their head,” she explains. “I have families who are working and students in high school who are also working full time to help maintain a lifestyle. I would urge you to consider raising the minimum wage.”

Collard went on to note that roughly 19,000 workers in Utah currently make minimum wage.

The bill largely reflects a federal effort to raise minimum wage.

Specifically, her plan is to raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 this year, then gradually increase the figure to $15 by the year 2026.

Arguing against the pay hike

The main resistance to the bill came from individuals who believe the free market should dictate when employers raise their wages.

One individual speaking in opposition to the bill was Jordan Hess, CEO of the St. George Chamber of Commerce.

“We don’t feel that the government should set those wages,” he explains. “The free market economy that our country has been built on, although imperfect, has raised more people out of poverty than any other economic system in the history of the world.”

House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, spoke in support of the measure.

“One thing that’s inarguable is that it puts more money in the pockets of working people,” he said. “I think that’s what we need to do is we need to address the real-life, everyday demands of individuals who are trying to make ends meet.”

As it turns out, the defense articulated by King wasn’t enough to gather support for the bill. The House Business and Labor Committee tabled the measure on a 10-3 vote, which went along party lines.

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