Capitol Alert

Bill to raise California minimum wage stalls in Assembly

Members of Unite Here show their support for raising the minimum wage before the Los Angeles City Council vote on May 19.
Members of Unite Here show their support for raising the minimum wage before the Los Angeles City Council vote on May 19. Los Angeles Times

A controversial measure to raise California’s minimum wage to $13 per hour over the next two years was held Thursday in a key financial committee, but the proposal may continue forward next session.

Despite last-minute amendments put forth by author Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, to delay the increase by another year, Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, chair of the Assembly Appropriations Committee, suggested he would look for other changes to advance Senate Bill 3 next year.

“Californians need an approach to raising the minimum wage that is sensitive to local economies and is appropriately accounted for in the state budget,” the Los Angeles Democrat said in a statement. “The Appropriations Committee will work with the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the speaker and others to ensure we review a comprehensive array of options to rationally increase the minimum wage throughout the state, including the potential for regional increases that reflect differing economies.”

The move drew praise from Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, but Leno slammed the notion of a piecemeal approach. In a statement, he vowed to return in January with his amended version of the bill, pointing to recent polls showing overwhelming support for a minimum wage hike.

“My strong support for a statewide minimum wage that raises California families, women and children out of poverty is unshakeable,” Leno said.

SB 3, which also would have tied the state’s required hourly rate to inflation beginning in 2019, passed the Senate in June. It faced significant opposition from business groups, however, including the California Chamber of Commerce, which placed the bill high on its annual list of “job killers” that the powerful lobby argues would have a negative economic impact.

Also failing to advance from the Assembly was Senate Bill 788 by Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, which would have placed a moratorium on offshore drilling in protected coastal lands.

In the Senate, the appropriations committee killed Assembly Bill 289 from Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore. It sought to protect legislative whistleblowers who report ethics violations.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff. Jeremy B. White of The Bee Capitol Bureau contributed to this report.