A measure that would have established a state minimum wage system in Tennessee failed in a House subcommittee this week, effectively ending its legislative journey.
The bill sponsored by Nashville-area state Representative Mike Turner would have created a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour -- the same rate as the federal minimum wage -- and would have kept up with the federal wage as it increases over time. The measure would have also mandated a higher hourly minimum -- $8.25 an hour -- for workers whose employers don't provide health insurance.
An analysis prepared by General Assembly staffers estimated close to 250 state workers would have been covered under Turner's legislation, at a cost of about $700,000 a year. The Nashville Business Journal estimated about 66,000 hourly workers across the state could have benefited from the measure.
Rep. Turner made his case to a House Consumer and Human Resources Subcommittee meeting on Wednesday, February 26. The vote fell along party lines, with three Republicans voting against the measure, and two Democrats in favor. The Republicans gave no reason why they voted the bill down, though the subcommittee's chairman, Jimmy Eldridge, commended Turner on a "good presentation."