Legislation increasing the Alaska’s minimum wage passed the House by one vote Sunday night. The bill raises the state minimum wage of by $1.25 this year and $1.00 next year, totaling $10.00.
The measure also inflation-proofs the wage increase in its third year.
In an unusual split among lawmakers, all 10 members of the Democratic Minority and several Republicans voted against the bill. Opponents say House Bill 384 supplants the will of the voters, who gathered enough signatures to place a minimum wage increase on the August 19th primary ballot.
"The voters would rather lose in August or November, and have their heads held high, then to have the rug pulled out from under them,” said Rep. Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage).
Alaska’s constitution allows for a ballot initiative to be removed if the legislature passes a "substantially similar" measure before the election.
In 2002, the legislature increased Alaska's minimum wage, only to strip out inflation proofing measures a year later.
Should voters approve the minimum wage increase on the ballot - the legislature would be unable to amend it for at least two years.
House Bill 384 heads to the senate, and would take effect July 1st, 2014 if it passes. The initiative on the primary ballot doesn’t take effect until 2015.
"I do not know who benefits from waiting to help working Alaskans, but it sure isn't those hard working Alaskans,” said Rep. Mia Costello, (R-Anchorage).