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Attempt to raise minimum wage shot down

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As expected, a Senate legislative committee on Tuesday shot down a measure to raise Utah's minimum wage. A similar proposal failed to make it out of a House committee last week.

In a 4-3 vote, the Senate Workforce Services and Community and Economic Development killed SB43, sponsored by Sen. Ed Mayne, D-West Valley City.

The bill originally sought to raise the rate from $5.15 to $7 per hour, but Mayne on Tuesday reduced the proposed new wage to $6.50 per hour in attempt to sway the more conservative committee members.

Dozens of proponents of the wage increase showed up to speak in favor of SB43, which is supported by many of the state's faith-based organizations, community advocacy groups and several business leaders.

However, public testimony was limited to three people on each side of the issue, angering and saddening Mayne.

"This is just more and more hypocrisy to the process," the senator said after SB43 was voted down, maintaining that his Republican colleagues voted to limit public testimony to three because that was the most they could round up to speak against the measure.

Utah's minimum wage has remained the same since 1997. Eighteen other states and the District of Columbia have approved increases to their minimum wage rates.

"Around this country, people and legislators are taking the positive route, not sticking it to their low-income workers," Mayne said.

Last year, Gov. Jon Huntsman appointed a working group to study an increase in Utah's minimum wage. That group has recommended in-depth interim study of the issue.