House committee hears bills proposing an increase in Texas minimum wage

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Several bills proposing various plans to raise the minimum wage in Texas were heard by a House of Representatives committee Monday, but members did not vote on any of the bills. 

Nineteen states have increased their minimum wages within the past year, but Texas — which has a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour — has yet to pass legislation that would allow this. The federal minimum wage, also $7.25, has not increased since 2009. 

Three bills presented during the committee hearing would raise the minimum wage to $15, while two bills would increase it to $10.10. Additionally, two bills would give cities and counties the authority to establish their own minimum wages.

Supporters claim these bills would help people provide for themselves and their families. Of the approximately 2.4 million Texans who would benefit from a minimum wage increase, 60 percent are between the ages of 25 and 54, according to a report by the left-leaning Center for Public Policy Priorities.

“We think this is for the people — it gives the people a chance to improve their lives,” said Yannis Banks, legislative liaison at Texas NAACP. “This is something that the people do want.” 

State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, challenged the premise of raising the minimum wage and sarcastically questioned why the bills do not propose an even higher rate.

State Rep. Armando Walle, D-Houston, who sponsored two bills that would raise the minimum wage to $15, responded that the goal is to provide an hourly rate that supports daily living expenses rather than raising the wage to an extreme amount. 

“We’re not saying to raise it to $100 an hour — that’s not practical,” Walle said. “We’re trying to have a baseline.”

The bills are still pending in committee and have yet to be voted on.