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Lawmakers Prepare for Battle Over Minimum Wage Increase

Alexa Ard

Nevada lawmakers are gearing up for what could be a long, partisan battle over increasing the state’s minimum wage. 

If enacted, Assembly Bill 175 would increase the state’s minimum wage by $1.25 a year. That's until it topped out at $14 an hour for workers with employer-offered health care and $15 an hour for individuals without the benefit.

"It boosts the morale of the families," says Democratic Assemblyman William McCurdy II of Las Vegas. "It allows us to decrease the number of children that we have living in poverty because their parents are ultimately able to provide for them."

Those in favor say the raise would help lift struggling families out of poverty and boost the economy. Those against, namely business owners, argue it would force employers to cut costs leading to layoffs as well as inflation. 

For lawmakers, the split appears to be along party lines.

"What I can blame, though, are employers who knowingly hire people who are illegally in the country," says Republican Assemblyman Ira Hansen of Sparks. "You need to aggressively enforce an E-Verify system to protect American workers and protect the legal immigrants that have done all the necessary steps that are forced into a competitive job market with people who don't follow the rules."

A wage increase has been a major talking point for Democrats, but party leaders have not yet voiced support for this particular bill. It may also face a challenge from  Republican Governor Brian Sandoval and his veto pen. 

Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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