The House Labor and Commerce Committee voted on Wednesday to send a bill to raising the minimum wage in the state to $15 per hour over six years to the House of Representatives, which approved it on Thursday.
Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago) sponsored Senate Bill 1 in the House and moved for a favorable recommendation from the committee.
"There is no compelling evidence (raising the minimum wage) will harm businesses," Guzzardi said. "The time to do this is way past due."
Reps. Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville), Steven Reick (R-Woodstock), Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego), Allen Skillicorn (R-Est Dundee) and Thomas Bennett (R-Pontiac) spoke out against the bill.
Wehrli said wording needed to be changed in the bill that says employees must work for a company for 90 days versus being employed for 90 days.
"Never in my life have I worked 90 consecutive days," Wehrli said. "Change (the wording) to employed, not worked. We have 50 legislative days. Let’s amend this and it might help you get some votes."
Wheeler wanted deliberations over more time. "Holding this bill a week does not affect the effective date," he said. "Those words have to be right for the intentions to be met."
Skillicorn chided Guzzardi for calling debate "dithering."
"You compared a debate to dithering," Skillicorn said. "Debate is a vital part of democracy, and even though this is hell bent to be passed tomorrow, I think it’s shameful you want to cut down debate and questions. This is a serious matter and if we’re not asking questions, why are we even voting on it tomorrow? Debate is exactly what democracy is."
Bennett said the bill needed to be worked on.
"It’s just not soup yet," he said.
Colin Dalough, director of governmental affairs and business development for the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, said the bill would have a different impact on different employers.
"This shouldn't be a one-size-fits-all policy," Dalough said. "Details matter dramatically. We are asking you to find a solution that works for everyone."
Karen Conn of Conn's Hospitality Group said economies outside of Chicago will be harmed by the bill.
"Find what’s best for the whole state," she said.
Rob Karr, president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, said people called him in tears.
"They call, saying they just can’t make the math work," he said.
Supporters of the bill who spoke at the hearing included AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Tim Drea, Wendy Pollack with the Women's Law and Policy Initiative of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, Jill Thomas of Golden Door Coffee and Scot Pirtle of Pirtle's Famous Ice Cream.
"Working families in your districts are going to benefit from this bill," Dray said to the representatives.
"This will provide opportunity and fairness," Thomas said. "Equality to everyone. It's important for us to start out right out of the gate to pay people a fair wage. We feel that is absolutely $15, if not more."
The committee voted with 19 in favor and 10 opposed. The bill was sent on to the House floor, where it was approved on Thursday.