Minimum wage debate begins at Colorado Legislature

March 23, 2015
Photo: Colorado minimum wage debate, demostration
 Andrew Olson, who works at McDonalds making slightly more than minimum wage, speaks during a demonstration in favor of raising Colorado's minimum wage on Monday, March 23, 2015, on the steps of the state Capitol in Denver.

Updated at 5:50 p.m.

Updated at 4:15 p.m.

Original post:

Two bills that could raise Colorado’s minimum wage get their first hearing at the state Capitol Monday. Although the measures are unlikely to survive the Legislature, they mark the start of a larger effort.

One of the bills would allow local governments to raise their minimum wages above the state's minimum of $8.23 per hour.  Cities and counties are currently prohibited by law from doing that.

The other bill would send a measure to voters asking them to raise the minimum wage statewide over five years, eventually landing at $12.50 per hour in 2020.

Democratic representative Dominick Moreno is sponsoring both bills.

"We see housing, transportation, food costs going up, and wages are simply not keeping up," he said. 

The measures are being heard in the Democratic-controlled House today, but they face more opposition in the Republican state Senate. 

"Government mandates on how a business should operate? That’s pretty tough for us," said Senate President Bill Cadman.

Supporters of a higher minimum wage say that if these bills fail, they may use the initiative process to put the issue before voters.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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