With only Republican support, the House of Representatives on Thursday approved a bill to allow businesses to pay working students nearly $4 an hour less than the state’s minimum wage, ostensibly to allow more students to find jobs.
House Bill 2523, sponsored by Rep. Travis Grantham, R-Gilbert, allows for full-time students under age 22 who work part-time or for intermittent periods to earn the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour.
Arizona’s hourly minimum wage is $11 this year, and will rise to $12 next year. The state’s minimum wage laws were passed by 58% of voters (1.4 million people) in 2016, and therefore changing or undermining them is unconstitutional.
Grantham insists his proposal doesn’t conflict with the minimum wage laws, although a House lawyer said it does.
Republicans argued HB2523 would give unemployed youth a foot in the door by giving businesses a reason to hire them. Democrats say it’s unconstitutional because it goes against the state’s voter-protected minimum wage law, is a “slap in the face” of students and is discriminatory.
The bill was approved on a 31-29 vote and now moves to the Senate for consideration.