Oregon minimum wage raise speeding to passage

State Senate Workforce Committee Chair unveils a map of three proposed regions for a proposed three-tier minimum wage.
State Senate Workforce Committee Chair unveils a map of three proposed regions for a proposed three-tier minimum wage.
Supporters of a $13.50 minimum wage ballot measure collect signatures at a Feb. 13 event in Salem.
Supporters of a $13.50 minimum wage ballot measure collect signatures at a Feb. 13 event in Salem.

SALEM — A bill to raise Oregon’s minimum wage is moving quickly through the short 2016 session of the Legislature. Unlike two pending union-backed ballot measures that would create a statewide minimum of $15 or $13.50, Senate Bill 1532 would divide the state into three regions.

By July 2022, the minimum wage would rise to $14.75 in the Portland metro area (inside the Urban Growth Boundary), $13.50 in 16 Northwestern Oregon counties plus Josephine and Jackson counties, and $12.50 in the rural “frontier” areas of the rest of the state. The raises would take place each year on July 1, starting this year, and would rise with inflation after 2022.

The bill passed the Senate Feb. 11 by 16-12. No Republican voted for it, and Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) was the only Democrat to vote against  it.

It passed the House Business and Labor Committee by a 6-5 party line vote Feb. 15.

As of press time, it was awaiting a vote on the House floor, where it was expected to pass. Gov. Kate Brown announced she will sign it if it passes, though it differs from an earlier version she proposed.

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