Nebraska Minimum Wage Bills Get Mixed Response

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LINCOLN, Neb. -- Proposals to raise the minimum wage in Nebraska are drawing support from advocates who say they would help the working poor, and opposition from business groups that say it would do just the opposite.

Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha presented a legislative committee Monday with a bill to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.00 by 2017. He says the bill would ensure that hard work pays in Nebraska.

One woman at the hearing, Sonia Bentley is for this measure and says it's a struggle to get by on what she makes.

"When a person works two full time jobs and can still can not even to squeak by then there's an injustice being committed," said Bentley.

Some business owners and economists say the hike would be a burden for the state's economy.

"When you manipulate the price of something on the market you're going to cause distortions, ultimately those distortions are going to harm the economy and going to result in more layoffs," said Dick Clark, director of research of the Platte Institute for economic research.

Lawmakers also heard a bill by Sen. Steve Lathrop that would increase the minimum wage for tipped workers from the current $2.13 an hour up to 70 percent of minimum wage.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says 32,000 Nebraskans earned the minimum wage in 2012.