Debate begins over Nevada's push to raise minimum wage to $12

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Dozens of people in both Northern and Southern Nevada turned out Wednesday, April 10, to support legislation that would increase Nevada's minimum wage to $12 an hour over the coming four years.

Speaker Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, introduced AB456 in the Assembly Committee on Commerce and Labor. He said the minimum wage should be set at an amount a worker would need to support a family of four.

He said Nevada's current minimum wage — $7.25 for businesses that offer health insurance and $8.25 for those that don't — doesn't come anywhere near that amount. He said a recent study put that amount at more than $11 an hour in both Clark and Washoe counties.

Frierson said some 30 percent of Nevada workers earn less than $12 an hour.

“I don't believe this is a partisan issue,” said Frierson. “These hard working families are from both sides of the aisle.”

He added that, nationwide, some 60 percent of small business owners support a $12 an hour minimum wage by 2020.

The bill would raise the minimum wage 75 cents an hour the first year and a dollar an hour in each of the next three years.

According to media reports, not everyone is in favor of a minimum wage hike. For example, according to an April 10 story in the Las Vegas Sun, Paul Moradkhan, vice president of government affairs for the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber conducted an internal survey that showed members said a minimum wage increase would hurt their business and could lead to reactions such as decreased hours for employees or increased costs for goods. In that same story, Laura Nowlan, executive director of the Nevada Hispanic Business Group, bemoaned the measure as one that forces further regulations on small businesses. Further, according to an April 10 report from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a wage hike could stress business' finances, which could lead to layoffs or automation of jobs, said Randi Thompson, Nevada state director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses. “When you mandate a minimum wage increase, all wages go up. It's called wage creep,” Thompson said in the story.

Meanwhile, Annette Magnus, of the liberal nonprofit Battle Born Progress, said people across the country overwhelmingly support higher minimum wages. She said her group provides a minimum of $15 an hour to all seven employees.

“If I can do it as a nonprofit, so can everyone else,” she said.

Frierson said he's willing to work with business and anyone else interested in the bill to ensure there are no unintended consequences.

AB456 is essentially the same bill that was passed by the 2017 Legislature but vetoed by then-Gov. Brian Sandoval.

According to reports, the committee took no action; no immediate upcoming hearings are set. Sierra Nevada Media Group Editor Kevin MacMillan contributed to this report.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment