published Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Move to boost Tennessee's minimum wage fails

NASHVILLE — Democratic lawmakers' efforts to make Tennessee the 22nd state to set a minimum wage higher than the federal standard failed in a Republican-led House panel Wednesday.

The bill, which would have raised the minimum wage for tens of thousands of hourly wage earners in the Volunteer State by $1 per hour, failed on a 3-2 party line vote with all three Republicans on the House Consumer and Human Resources Subcommittee voting no.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner said his bill would exclude employers paying workers the minimum wage so long as they also pay employees' health benefits.

"There'll be people who tell you it's a 'job killer's' bill and all that," Turner said and disputed such assertions. He said those making minimum wage pump their money directly back into the economy.

"We've passed a lot of legislation the past two years that have helped the wealthiest in this state, and some for good things," Turner said. "But we've done very little the past two years to help the people in the lower end who are struggling."

Republicans on the panel didn't debate the issue with Turner but simply voted no when the bill was put to a vote.

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