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New version of minimum wage legislation possible

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 by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Ever since it was introduced, Bill 316 was raised more debate than actual salaries. And while the measure was just added to next week's session agenda, it appears a compromise has been proposed that could see it pass on session floor.

Bill 316 could get a makeover through a proposal by the Republican minority. "The Republican caucus has gotten together after our rules meeting looking for some type of medium, a compromise we can come with the vice speaker on his bill," said Senator Tony Ada.

Bill 316 had proposed to raise the minimum wage by $0.95 over the next three years capped $10.10. Ada, the minority leader penned a letter on behalf the Republican senators for a one-time, one-dollar raise instead.

He said, "The vice speaker looked at a $0.95 increase so we went up to a $1 increase for the one time one dollar so it will take it up to $8.25 at minimum wage and have a study and see where it goes from there - if that impact is minimal then you know there's other things that can be done but if it had a great impact where it's significant that it really hurt our economy, at least it doesn't hurt it that bad but we were discussing it and hopefully we can come out with the compromise with it."

The proposal would take effect January 1, 2015 with a mandated study to follow. He suggests a rules committee substitution of Bill 316 could contain a requirement for the governor to direct the appropriate Executive Branch entities to study the overall impact of the wage increase and report it quarterly to the legislature. He says if this is done, he ventures that most, if not all senators would vote yes on the measure. Vice Speaker Bj Cruz says the proposal is something he can work with, noting, "I will accept this as the first step but because I'm confident that when we do the study next year, we will be able to prove that we can go with the second and the third."

Cruz says he's pleased with the apparent compromise as at least someone is offering some solution to help those who are the lowest paid on our community. "And I'm confident that if we can get an independent person to do the study after January, that we would have proven that all the naysayers were wrong and there's not going to be this fall in the sky and everybody being laid off and whatever because we're confident our studies are accurate," he said.

Cruz adds despite what some may think, he has done his research and studies by working with the island's economists on this effort. And although this is an election year, he says this has been a proposal he's been working on for several years. "It's not a win for me or anybody else its going to be a win for a the working class and that's the important part not for any of us," he said.

Peter Sgro, the chairman of the Guam Chamber of Commerce and one of the biggest critics of Bill 316, refrained from commenting at the one time-one dollar proposal until he's gotten the consensus of his board. Whether or not a substituted version is introduced, the original bill is on the session agenda set for Monday starting at 9am. 
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