SB15 Passes Senate and it goes to the House (UPDATE)

The State Senate on Thursday passed Senate Bill 15, the bill to raise the minimum wage from $9.25 to $15.00 over the course of the next few years, by a party line vote of 14-7. The legislation was amended in the Senate to make it clear that the minimum wage would remain at its current level of $9.25 per hour until January 1, 2022.

The amended bill now goes to the House for consideration. And Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf would do well to place it in the House Labor Committee, rather than the House Administration Committee. Failing to place it in the House Labor Committee, given that it was considered and approved in the Senate Labor Committee, would be a grave signal to Democratic voters that the House leadership intends to scuttle the bill. Indeed, placing in the House Administration Committee would be a direct signal to Democratic voters and the working people of Delaware that the Speaker does not intend to even consider the bill.

UPDATE: Well, it got placed in the House Economic Everything Committee. So so much for my demands. But, perhaps sensing that many would be displeased, or perhaps in reading this post, Committee Chair Bill Bush has released the following statement:

“The House Economic Development, Banking, Insurance & Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on Senate Bill 15 during the week of April 19th, at the committee’s first scheduled meeting following the General Assembly’s spring recess. The committee has a substantial agenda of legislation to consider in its two remaining meetings for this month, including HB 88, which would address the youth and training wage, among other items.

“As committee chair, it’s my hope that providing a date-certain for a hearing on SB 15 will demonstrate our commitment to fostering a full, fair and open discussion on this bill.”

Ok, so the bill will get a hearing, eliminating one fear that it would not get a hearing if it weren’t in the House Labor Committee. But will the bill get the votes to get out of committee. I am being told that the bill and the other wage bills should get out of committee. So the bills will get to the floor. Will we have the votes then?

Eighteen (18) out of 26 House Democrats sponsored the bill. We have to presume they will vote in favor of it. So who are the remaining 8? Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, Kendra Johnson, Sherae’a Moore, Sean Matthews, Krista Griffith, Bill Carson, Bill Bush and Andria Bennett. I believe that Johnson, Moore, Matthews and Griffith are all for raising the wage. The Speaker, Bill Carson, Bill Bush and Andria Bennett are all question marks. This bill is a simple majority vote, so 21 votes gets us to victory. If all four of the probable yes votes vote that way, we have 22 votes.

But let’s start make our voices heard right now. Here are links to the Democrats on the Economic Everything Committee:

Call them. Email them. Be nice but firm. Tell them this vote will determine your vote in the next election.

Senate Bill 15 SponsorsYes VotesNo Votes
Walsh, Brown, Pinkney, Townsend, Ennis, Gay, Lockmman, Hansen, Mantzavinos, S.McBride, Paradee, Poore, Sturgeon, SokolaSenate Passed 14-7. Brown Ennis Gay Hansen Lockman Mantzavinos Paradee Pinkney Poore S.McBride Sokola Sturgeon Townsend WalshBonini Hocker Lawson Lopez Pettyjohn Richardson Wilson
Brady, Dorsey Walker, Kowalko, Lambert, Longhurst, Osienski, K.Williams, Baumbach, Bolden, Bentz, Cooke, Chukwuocha, Heffernan, Lynn, Minor-Brown, Morrison, Mitchell, Wilson-Anton
Current Status Passed Senate, onto the House

Under Senate Bill 15, Delaware’s base hourly wage would increase to $10.50 on January 1, 2022 – allowing time for the state’s small business sector to recover from the pandemic. The bill would add another $1.25 raise in 2023, followed by a $1.50 raise in 2024 and a $1.75 raise in 2025. 

On May 1, Delaware’s current minimum wage will be lower than the base pay required in four out of five surrounding Mid-Atlantic states, including New York ($12.50), New Jersey ($12), Maryland ($11.75) and Virginia ($9.50).  Each of those states is already on track to reach a $15 an hour minimum wage by 2025. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed raising the Keystone State’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2027. 

“The economic health of this nation turns on a core proposition: if you put in a hard day’s work, you will earn a fair day’s wage that will allow you to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head,” said Sen. Jack Walsh, the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 15. “That was the premise behind the federal minimum wage when it was created to lift America out of The Great Depression and that’s why my colleagues and I today pledged our support for the grocery store clerks, retail workers, janitors and long-term care workers who stood on the frontlines during the greatest public health crisis of our lifetimes.” 

“When you have a full-time job, you should be able to count on that paycheck to keep a roof over your head, food on your table, and cover your family’s basic expenses. For so many people earning the minimum wage right now, that’s just not possible,” said Rep. Gerald Brady, the prime House sponsor. “This legislation is a major step toward restoring the promise that a job brings with it a fundamental level of dignity and peace of mind for every Delawarean. I want to commend my Senate colleagues for advancing it and look forward to passing it in the House.” 

“When we began the 151st General Assembly, we made a commitment to aggressively tackle the economic, public health and racial justice issues Delawareans are facing every day,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Dave Sokola. “This legislation represents a major step toward fulfilling that promise and I am proud of my colleagues in the Senate Democratic Caucus, every one of whom signed on as a cosponsor of SB 15 and voted to pass this legislation today.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

1 comment on “SB15 Passes Senate and it goes to the House (UPDATE)

  1. Do not get me wrong I want this bill to pass. Delawares workers need all the help they can get. But this bill is substantially deficient in what it is providing the working poor. The $15 Living Wage idea began about 2008 and this bill will have it fully implemented in 2025, some 17 years later. The $15 we wanted as a minimum wage back in 2008 will reqire $20.70 in 2025 to maintain the same purchasing power according to BLS statistics. The minimum wage we are hoping to provide Delaware workers with this bill will have lost 38% of its purchasing power by the 2025.
    Further, the bill does not contain an automatic COLA trigger for the state minimum wage so the legislature will have to vote on a new minimum wage for it to go up. A COLA trigger would allow the minimum wage to go up year by year with inflation thereby keeping our workers even with a living wage.
    In addition the law does not address health benefits, paid vacations and holidays, and paid sick and family leave.
    Please do not give me the story of the small business man going out of business if the above were to happen. I do have sympathy for them as it relates to COVID. However no business should make money on the backs of their workers. If a business cannot make money while paying a living wage to their employees then they should not be in business.

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