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February 9, 2014

N.H. considers raising minimum wage

Poll shows support for proposed hike

Some say Granite State workers need a minimum wage increase. But others say it would devastate small businesses and the hospitality industry.

It will be up to New Hampshire lawmakers to decide when they consider a bill this session that would raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 in 2015, then to $9 in 2016.

A new poll says most of those surveyed back the proposed increase, with 76 percent of the 584 state residents questioned in favor of the bill. Gov. Maggie Hassan called for an increase in the minimum wage in her State of the State address Thursday.

Hearing the governor push for an increase pleased Sally Kelly.

Kelly, a Democratic state representative from Chichester, is the prime sponsor of House Bill 1403, which would increase the minimum wage.

“That was very exciting,” she said. “I was thrilled to hear her. I didn’t know that was in her speech.”

Hassan referenced Kelly in her address, asking the business community to work with lawmakers to come up with an increase that would benefit workers and industry.

“The time is right now, this is a moderate increase,” Kelly said Friday. “This will put money back into our economy.”

The bill is receiving support from both Democrats and Republicans, even though many GOP lawmakers have failed to back such legislation in the past, she said.

Rep. Mary Till, D-Derry, is among those who believe a higher minimum wage is needed to help low-income workers and boost the economy.

“I’m a firm believer in trying to grow the economy from the middle out,” she said. “I’m a firm believer in raising the minimum wage.”

The first hearing on the bill is Tuesday before the House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee. Kelly is the committee’s vice chairman. The committee is expected to vote on whether to recommend the legislation Feb. 18, she said.

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