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While Republicans in the United States Senate were preparing to block a bill raising the federal minimum wage, one state's legislature wasn't waiting around. Tuesday, Hawaii's legislature passed a bill increasing the state's minimum wage to $10.10 by 2018, to be signed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie the same day as Republicans blocked a federal increase.
Connecticut and Maryland had already passed $10.10 minimum wage bills this year, while California's minimum wage is rising to $10.00 and Washington, DC's is going to $11.50, both reaching those levels in 2016. Hawaii joins California in one important way. Its bill:
... will apply to tipped workers such as waiters and taxi drivers. Workers who make less than $17.10 an hour including their tips will have to be paid the $10.10 wage plus tips, and the employers of those who make more than that level can deduct a 75 cent tip credit from their wage. By contrast, Maryland’s tipped workers’ minimum wage is still frozen at $3.63 an hour and in Connecticut it will remain at 63.2 percent of the higher wage, rising to $6.38 per hour once $10.10 takes effect. At the federal level, the tipped minimum wage remains at $2.13 an hour, where it has been for two decades.
So a minimum wage that's a living wage is spreading across the country, with millions of workers getting a raise. That's fantastic. But workers in states like Alabama, Texas, Idaho, Pennsylvania, and Iowa also deserve to have a year of full-time work pay above a poverty wage. And for that to happen, Congress needs to act—which means Republicans need to get out of the way.