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Oregon Lawmakers To Hear Minimum Wage Proposals

Chris Phan

The battle over raising Oregon's minimum wage will take center stage in the state legislature Monday.

Oregon's current minimum wage is $9.25 per hour. Various measures are under consideration. Some would allow local communities to set a base wage higher than the state's. Others would raise the state wage as high as $15 per hour. Some business groups say that's too high. But Portland restaurant owner Peter Emerson believes his business would ultimately benefit.

"What that will essentially mean is that in my neighborhood, there will be more money flowing around,” he said.

And he believes that would mean more customers for his restaurant.

Oregon's Senate President, Democrat Peter Courtney, said he supports a higher minimum wage, but he has said publicly that he doesn't think the time is right.

The group 15 Now Oregon said if the legislature doesn't act, it plans to run a ballot measure in 2016. Advocates made a similar promise in Washington after a minimum wage increase died in Olympia earlier this month.

The House Business and Labor Committee will meet Monday morning, and the Senate Committee on Workforce will meet Monday afternoon, to hear invited testimony. The committees will meet jointly on Monday evening to hear testimony from the public.

Copyright 2015 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman
Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.