By Pamela Wolf, J.D. The Oregon Legislature has given final approval to a minimum wage bill that will raise the base minimum wage to $13.50 an hour by July 1, 2022. However, a higher minimum wage of $14.75 by 2022 applies to employees working within the urban growth boundary of the Portland metropolitan area, while a lower minimum wage of $12.50 by 2022 is slated for employees working in 18 nonurban counties. After July 1, 2023, the base minimum wage would be adjusted annually for inflation; however, the urban growth boundary of the Portland metropolitan area would be the adjusted base minimum rate plus $1.25, and the 18 nonurban counties would be the adjusted base minimum rate less $1. The bill, SB 1532, cleared the state senate as amended on February 11 by a 16-12 vote. In the house on February 18, the debate was long and heated and attracted protests that the minimum wage had not been increased to $15 an hour, according to media reports. After several amendments failed, the senate-amended version passed the house with a 32-26 ballot. The legislation would implement minimum wage increases according to three different schedules based on where employers are located. Base rate. Under the base-rate schedule, the minimum wage would increase to $9.75 on July 1, 2016; to $10.25 on July 1, 2017; to $10.75 on July 1, 2018; to $11.25 on July 1, 2019; to $12 on July 1, 2020; to $12.75 on July 1, 2021; and to $13.50 on July 1, 2022. Beginning on July 1 2023, and each July 1 afterward, the minimum wage would be adjusted annually for inflation. Portland Metro Urban Growth Boundary. Employees working in an urban growth boundary of a metropolitan service district (currently the Portland Metro Urban Growth Boundary, according to a legislative analysis) would receive wage hikes under the following accelerated schedule: $9.75 on July 1, 2016; $11.25 on July 1, 2017; $12 on July 1, 2018; $12.50 on July 1, 2019; $13.25 on July 1, 2020; $14 on July 1, 2021; and $14.75 on July 1, 2022. Beginning on July 1, 2023, the minimum wage would be adjusted each July 1 to $1.25 an hour more than the inflation-adjusted base rate. Nonurban counties. Employees working in nonurban counties would get a wage boost to $9.50 on July 1, 2016; $10 on July 1, 2017; $10.50 on July 1, 2018; $11 on July 1, 2019; $11.50 on July 1, 2020; $12 on July 1, 2021; and $12.50 on July 1, 2022. Starting on July 1, 2023, the minimum wage would be adjusted annually to $1 less than the inflation-adjusted base rate. SB 1532 designates 18 nonurban counties: Baker, Coos, Crook, Curry, Douglas, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Klamath, Lake, Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, and Wheeler. Governor’s approval expected. Governor Kate Brown, who has praised the bill, is expected to sign it. “Today's action advances one of my priorities for 2016: raise the minimum wage,” she said in a statement February 18th. “I started this conversation last fall, bringing stakeholders together to craft a workable proposal; one that gives working families the much-needed wage boost they need, and addresses challenges for businesses and rural economies presented by the two impending ballot measures. I look forward to signing this bill.”
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