Note: This story was updated to late Monday revisions to the bill.
In the final hours of a bill introduction deadline Monday, lawmakers dropped nearly 150 bills, which included the long-awaited legislation to raise Nevada’s minimum wage.
Assembly Bill 456, sponsored by the Assembly Committee on Commerce and Labor, called for increasing Nevada’s minimum wage to $12. If passed, it would have gone into effect Jan. 1, 2020.
But then later in the evening, the bill was revised. Now the bill raises the wage 75 cents annually until it reaches $12 if employers are not offered health insurance, and $11 if they are.
“I don’t believe $12 is a livable wage,” said Erika Washington, the executive director of Make it Work Nevada Monday evening before the bill had been revised. “When you think of the cost of rent increasing, in both Washoe and Clark County, and the cost of food increasing and how expensive it is to run the air conditioning in the desert.”
Washington added that she thinks with this increase, people will still be living below the poverty line and in need of government assistance.
In his State of the State address in January, Gov. Steve Sisolak acknowledged support for raising the minimum wage, but never specified by how much.
“Nevadans are making too little,” he said. “That needs to change and it needs to start by giving Nevadans a well-earned raise. It’s impossible for an individual, let alone a family, to live on $7.25 an hour.”
The current wage in Nevada is $7.25 for workers who have benefits and $8.25 without health benefits.
Nationally, all the Democratic representatives in congress support legislation to increase the wage to $15 by 2024. Progressive groups in Nevada have rallied for an increase through the Fight for $15 campaign.
“I don’t know why or how $15 disappeared,” Washington said. “It’s frustrating and disappointing.”
Other states have increased their wages. California, where the wage is already $12, is scheduled to rise a dollar a year until it reaches $15 in 2022, followed by annual increases based on the consumer price index (CPI). Arizona’s minimum wage is $11, but increases to $12 Jan. 1, 2020, and then rises annually based on cost of living increases.
Monday’s deadline for committee bills also saw a flurry of other bills introduced, including legislation to change the state constitution to let the governor appoint Supreme Court judges recommended by a judicial commission.
Bills were also introduced to convert traffic infractions from criminal offenses to civil, restore the right to vote for those convicted of certain felonies, and mandate that addiction treatment facilities report deaths.