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Democrats advance minimum wage hikes in Colorado Legislature

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DENVER — A Democratic push to raise the minimum wage in Colorado notched early successes Monday at the Capitol.

A House committee controlled by Democrats voted 6-5 on party lines to ask voters this fall whether to raise the minimum wage gradually over the next five years.

The committee voted by the same margin to allow local governments to set their own minimum wages in excess of the state minimum wage. Cities and counties are currently prohibited from doing that.

The measures had the support of about 200 minimum-wage workers and their supporters, who held a rally on the Capitol steps in advance of the hearings.

"People like us who work hard should be able to afford the basics," said Andrew Olson, a Denver man who works at McDonalds.

Business groups opposed the changes, saying that higher minimum wages suppress hiring.

"Raising their cost of labor creates incentives for employers to use less labor, not more," said Tony Gagliardi, director of the Colorado chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business.

The ballot measure would set a wage of $9.50 starting in 2017, increasing a dollar an hour each year until the minimum wage is $12.50 an hour by 2020.

Both measures face almost certain death in the Senate, which is controlled by the GOP.


Online:

House Bill 1300: http://bit.ly/1EKS4qa

House Concurrent Resolution 1001: http://bit.ly/1BJjfwN

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