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Minimum-wage measure dies at Colorado Legislature

Bill would have allowed local governments to establish minimums
The Colorado legislative chambers on opening day in 2015.

DENVER – Republican state lawmakers on Wednesday killed a measure pushed by Democrats that sought to raise the minimum wage in Colorado.

The legislation – which also failed in previous legislative sessions – would have repealed a 1999 law that gave the state control over minimum-wage issues, allowing local governments to establish minimum wages commensurate with the local cost of living.

The Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee killed the bill on a 3-2 party-line vote.

Most employment sectors in and around Durango do not provide enough income to meet the basic needs of a family of four, according to the 2015 Southwest Colorado Index released in December.

Advocates for raising the minimum wage point to the December report, suggesting that if lawmakers do not act, then the issue should be taken to the Colorado ballot.

The minimum wage in Colorado is $8.31 per hour, or about $17,225 per year. A family of four in Durango would need to earn $28.45 per hour to make a so-called “livable wage.”

Supporters suggest that taxpayers end up subsidizing businesses that don’t pay higher wages, as employees seek government welfare programs.

But business interests say the measure would have caused uncertainty, creating a patchwork of wages across the state.


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