N.H. House votes to up minimum wage

24 of 27 House members from Nashua voted in favor of $12 per hour minimum

Telegraph photo by CASEY JUNKINS A majority of New Hampshire House members, including 24 of the 27 representing Nashua, voted to hike the state’s minimum wage to $12 per hour by Jan. 1, 2022.

NASHUA – New Hampshire’s $7.25 minimum wage would go to $12 per hour by Jan. 1, 2022, if legislation passed by the state House of Representatives ultimately becomes law.

Thursday, 24 of the 27 House members elected from the city of Nashua voted in favor

of HB 186, which passed out of the chamber by a total vote of 210-145. This legislation calls for increasing the Granite State’s minimum wage as follows:

• $9.50 per hour as of Jan. 1, 2020;

• $10.75 per hour as of Jan. 1, 2021; and

• $12 per hour on Jan. 1, 2022.

“Without this bill, minimum wage Granite Staters will continue to feel the New Hampshire disadvantage of being the lowest-paid in the region. It is past time that we pass this modest wage increase to bring us back in line with our New England neighbors,” House Majority Leader Doug Ley, D-Jaffrey, said.

“At the federal rate, minimum wage earners cannot afford necessities like rent, heating, food and child care in high cost-of-living states like New Hampshire,” he added.

If an employee earning the current $7.25 minimum wage worked 40 hours per week for 52 weeks in a year, he or she would realize an annual salary of $15,080, or $290 per week.

Some states mandating higher minimum wages than New Hampshire’s $7.25 do not seem surprising, as they include Massachusetts ($12), California ($11), New York ($11.10) and others.

However, states requiring higher minimum hourly rates than New Hampshire also include Arkansas ($9.25) and West Virginia ($8.75), according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

“Relying on the federal government to set New Hampshire’s minimum wage, as we have done since Republicans repealed our minimum wage law in 2011, is an insult to the people of this state,” Ley said. “A minimum wage sufficient for Alabama or Tennessee is simply inadequate for New Hampshire.”

The approved House legislation differs slightly from Senate Bill 10, introduced recently by Senate President Donna Soucy, D-Manchester. This would cause minimum wage to increase to $10 per hour on Jan. 1, 2020.

However, Gov. Chris Sununu has said he does not support a state minimum wage higher that would exceed the federal rate, so the Democrats may struggle to make these wage hikes a reality. Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Dick Hinch, R-Merrimack, expressed his reasons for opposing the increase.

“Artificially raising wages will force job creators to rethink hiring, cut hours, or look to automation. State government should stop telling job creators how to run their businesses,” Hinch said.

“We have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the county, and a shortage of workers. This has created a market where businesses compete for workers, and it has driven up wages. This is how economics should work,” he added.

HOW THEY VOTED

All 27 members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives from the city of Nashua are Democrats.

Here is how they voted on HB 186: “Establishing a state minimum wage and providing for adjustments to the minimum wage.”

In total, there were 24 yeas, 0 nays, and 3 non-votes.

Ward 1 — Jan Schmidt, William Bordy and Bruce Cohen voted yea.

Ward 2 — Ray Newman, Sue Newman and Paul R. Bergeron voted yea.

Ward 3 — Sherry Dutzy, Patricia Klee and Suzanne Vail voted yea.

Ward 4 — Fred Davis Jr., Manny Espitia and David Cote voted yea.

Ward 5 — Allison Nutting-Wong, Michael Pedersen and Dan Toomey voted yea.

Ward 6 — Mark King voted yea. Fran Nutter-Upham and Ken Gidge did not vote.

Ward 7 — Greg Indruk, Catherine Sofikitis and Deb Stevens voted yea.

Ward 8 — Skip Cleaver, Laura Damphousse Telerski and Latha Mangipudi voted yea.

Ward 9 — Marty Jack and Linda Harriott-Gathright voted yea. Michael O’Brien Sr. did not vote