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Posted: Monday, March 3rd, 2014 12:24 PM HST

Lawmakers advance Hawaii minimum wage hike

By Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) Hawaii's minimum wage would rise by almost $3 in three years under a bill the state Senate advanced Friday.

The minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour for the past seven years. The bill would raise that by 95 cents a year until it reaches $10.10 in 2017.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee sent the measure ahead to the Senate floor, but not before removing provisions that workers and labor advocates had sought. The amended bill (SB 2609) will not repeal the tax credit for employers and will not yoke future minimum wage increases to the Consumer Price Index.

A full-time minimum wage worker in Hawaii earns about $15,000 a year. The state's cost of living and housing prices are among the highest in the nation.

Raising the minimum wage has broad appeal in the state legislature, in part due to President Barack Obama's executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers from $7.25 to $10.10 in 2015. But in Hawaii, where about one job in five is in the leisure and hospitality, the potential effects on food and service jobs are a point of contention.

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