This legislative session there are two bills, one in the House and one in the Senate, seeking to establish a state minimum wage, something New Hampshire nixed in 2011.
Currently New Hampshire’s minimum wage is set at the federal rate of $7.25 an hour. The Senate bill, which had a public hearing on Tuesday, wants to up that to $12. This nearly five dollar jump was something many in the business community were opposed to.
But another key issue that drew in criticism was that this increase would kick in 60 days after its passage. "To go to 12 dollar within 60 days would be impossible," Gary Cahoon of the New Hampshire Association of Residential Care Homes told lawmakers on Tuesday.
The bill would also require that tipped employees receive no less than 45 percent of the state's minimum wage. New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association President Mike Summers testified that such a boost would require some restaurants to have cut workers' hours and even close down.
Meanwhile those who testified in support of the bill say this wage increase would not only help struggling families but also boost the economy.
A second bill in the House would phase in the increases, upping the state’s minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2019 and would set rate for tipped employees at $4 an hour. Similar measures in both the House and Senate failed last legislative session.
Currently New Hampshire has the lowest minimum wage in New England.