Two Senate committees on Monday advanced a bill that would raise the minimum wage from $10.10 to $12 an hour by July 2022.

If Senate Bill 676 clears the Legislature, it would be the first minimum wage increase since 2018.

Workers advocates and labor unions have been calling for lawmakers to implement a schedule of wage increases until the minimum wage reaches $17 an hour in 2026.

Meanwhile, the local business community, which has been hard hit by the pandemic, has opposed any increase to wages this session.

Wide view of the Senate floor. Legislature Crossover 2020
The Senate is set to vote on a proposal to raise the state minimum wage to $12 an hour by July 2022. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

Neither side got their chance to appear publicly in front of lawmakers on Monday.

In a hearing that lasted about two minutes, members of the Senate Judiciary and Ways and Means committees voted to forward SB 676 to the Senate floor. Sens. Lorraine Inouye and Glenn Wakai cast the only “no” votes.

It’s been a policy of the Senate to not take public testimony on measures that have already cleared at least one committee. The Senate Labor, Culture and the Arts Committee passed SB 676 on Feb. 8.

All 25-members in the Senate will decide as early as this week whether or not SB 676 should continue moving through the Legislature. The bill needs to win Senate approval by a March 11 deadline.

After that, it still needs to make it through rounds of committee hearings in the House and also win approval of a majority of the chamber’s 51-members.

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