SALEM, Ore. (AP) - The Oregon House of Representatives has approved landmark legislation that not only raises the state's minimum wage for all workers to the highest level in the country, but does so through an unprecedented three-tiered system that sets different rates by geographic region.
Senate Bill 1532 passed Thursday, mostly along party lines in a narrow 32-26 vote. It will now go to Democratic Gov. Kate Brown for final signoff. Brown has said she supports the proposal.
"Today's action advances one of my priorities for 2016: raise the minimum wage," said Governor Brown. "I started this conversation last fall, brining stakeholders together to craft a workable proposal; one that gives working families the much-needed wage boost they need, and addresses challenges for businesses and rural economies presented by the two impending ballot measures. I look forward to signing this bill."
The bill will increase wages gradually over six years. By 2022, the state's current $9.25 an hour minimum - already one of the highest in the nation - would climb to $14.75 in metro Portland, $13.50 in smaller cities such as Salem and Eugene, and $12.50 in rural communities.
A regional approach would balance the needs of rapidly growing Portland with Oregon's struggling farming communities, long separated from the state's largest city by economic, cultural and political differences.
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