Colorado House signals approval for minimum wage hike

State Rep. Rhonda Fields
In this March 2013 photo, state Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, speaks at a podium during a debate inside the Colorado State Legislature, in Denver.

Lawmakers in Colorado’s state House gave preliminary approval Monday to two measures designed to raise the minimum wage.

One would let local governments raise their minimum wages above the state’s. The other would put a statewide increase on the ballot.

"No one in our state should have to work 40 hours a week, and still be in poverty," Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora.

But Republicans argue that increasing the minimum wage, either locally or statewide, would lead to Colorado businesses to raise prices and stop hiring. Rep. Polly Lawrence, R-Douglas County, argued that the starting wage needs to be low to help inexperienced people get their first jobs.

"What that was meant to do was to allow a high school student, or a college student during summer break to get experience," Lawrence said.

Both policies still need a formal vote in the state House. Neither is expected to pass the state Legislature.