Lawmakers Consider Raising Minimum Wage In Texas

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelMarch 21, 2017 11:07 am

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

The Texas House heard testimony on nine measures Monday that would raise the state’s minimum wage.Right now, the minimum wage in Texas is the same as the federal rate: $7.25 an hour. Legislation would raise that to either $10.10 or $15.

Let’s do the math: 

If you make $7.25 an hour and work 40 hours a week, you’re taking home $290 before taxes. That’s $1,160 a month – and that means your annual salary adds up to just under $14,000 – before taxes.

But Josiah Neeley told the House Committee on Business and Industry that a little money is better than no money. He made the case that raising the minimum wage could lead to job losses in Texas. He’s with the non-profit think tank, R Street Institute, which promotes free markets and limited government.

“In reality, the minimum wage is always zero if a person can’t find a job,” Neeley says. “Then they are not making any dollars an hour. As you increase the cost of employing people to employers there’s an increased job loss that comes from that.”

But Brian Marks wasn’t really buying that argument.

“The thing I see with that is like the price on everything else like rent, food, necessities, it’s all going up every year anyways,” Marks says.  

Marks is with the aptly named advocacy group – Fight for 15 – which calls for raising the minimum wage in Texas to 15 dollars an hour. He told lawmakers, that he actually makes more than minimum wage but can still barely get by.

“My wife is disabled and I have to help pay her medical bills, her medication, everything like that because she can’t work,” he says. “I’ll say this now because I don’t want the question to be brought up. I work at 10.55 an hour so I’m technically not at minimum wage but I don’t think I’m working at a livable wage because I’m struggling so much just to provide, rent, medical, and food, and everything for that.”

Even though the national rate for the minimum wage hasn’t budged since 2009 – the National Council of State Legislatures reports 19 states started 2017 with wages higher than the national minimum. And over half of the states in the country have a minimum wage higher than 7.25 an hour.

Members of the Texas Senate worked on making licenses to carry a handgun more affordable yesterday. Under Senate Bill 16, the fee for a first-time license would drop from $140 to $40.

Alice Tripp with the Texas State Rifle Association testified in favor of the measure:

“Texas has one of the most expensive licenses in the country,” Tripp said. “And it is essentially – what we’re finding out – is that the cost to DPS and the state is 40 bucks – meaning there’s a $100 tax on personal protection.”

The Texas Senate State Affairs Committee unanimously approved the measure yesterday and it now heads to the full Senate.

And moving on from efforts to raise the minimum wage and lower handgun license costs – Texas is home to 50 billionaires. That’s according to Forbes Magazine’s 2017 list of the world’s billionaires.

The Texas billionaire with the most billions? Walmart heiress Alice Walton of Fort Worth.