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NH Senate puts off state minimum wage debate

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- The Republican-controlled New Hampshire Senate chose not to act Thursday on a bill that would bring back the state minimum wage.

Donna Soucy, D- Manchester, said the decision only puts off the debate as similar legislation is likely to pass the Democratic-controlled House. That would bring the proposal back to the Senate, where it would get a new hearing and potentially a new vote. The state minimum wage was repealed two years ago when Republicans controlled both houses of the legislature.

"New Hampshire has had a minimum wage law since 1949," Soucy said, adding that the state's ability to set its own minimum wage is in keeping with New Hampshire's independent character.

Her bill reinstates the state minimum wage at the same level as the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 per hour. Employees that regularly get $30 or more in tips per month get at least 45 percent of that.

Raising the minimum wage should be part of the conversation down the road, she said.

But Sen. Majority Leader, Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, said a federal minimum wage is all that's necessary, adding that states that raise their minimum wage above the federal level are economically less competitive.

"There is no question in my view that states with higher minimum wages have higher unemployment," Bradley told reporters Thursday.