Hawaii’s minimum wage increased from $8.50 per hour to $9.25 on Jan. 1. It’s slated to jump to $10.10 a year from now.

Businesses and business advocates complain that the higher wage is a burden while social groups complain the figure is paltry, given the state’s cost of living and the fact that some states and cities have in place higher wages.

Now along comes Hawaii state Rep. Kaniela Ing, a Democrat from South Maui, who is sponsoring legislation to increase Hawaii’s minimum wage to $15 by 2019 and $22 by 2022.

Rep. Kaniela Ing, center, at the Capitol last year.

Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat

“The bill will also tie the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index and eliminates the exemption for tipped employees,” according to a press release Tuesday. “Ing says the bill will be the nation’s most progressive ‘living wage’ law, and encompasses the spirit of the grassroots Fight for $15 movement.”

Ing continued:

“Hawaii is the most expensive state in the nation. Other high cost of living states and cities like Seattle, California, and New York have already passed $15 minimum wage laws. Working families are struggling, so we as legislators have a moral obligation to act. The evidence shows that raising the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour is the single most impactful policy for Hawaii’s most vulnerable.”

The rep added, “I expect various big-money special interests to oppose the bill, but my hope is that empirical facts, popular opinion, and baseline morality will … prevail in the end.”

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State Sen. Josh Green late last month also proposed an increased wage, to $15 an hour by 2019.

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