The bill passed on a party-line vote, with the five Democrats voting for the bill and the three Republicans voting against the bill. The bill now heads to the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee.
The bill would not increase the minimum wage for restaurant workers that are tipped more than $30 per month. The minimum wage for those employees would remain $2.13 per hour.
The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. The New Mexico minimum wage is $7.50 per hour.
If this bill were to become law, New Mexico would have one of the highest minimum wage rates in the country. New Mexico would have the fourth-highest minimum wage in the country — only behind Washington, Oregon and Vermont.
The bill had a very short debate from legislators.
“When money moves the economy improves,” Sen. Bill Soules, D-Las Cruces, said.
Soules said that they were looking for the “Goldilocks” area where the minimum wage wasn’t too low or too high when Sen. Tim Keller, D-Albuquerque, asked why they shouldn’t raise it to something very high like $20.
Business owners and groups representing businesses opposed the legislation, while workers and advocates for low income families said it would help.
A proposed constitutional amendment that would have tied the minimum wage to the consumer price index failed in a House committee earlier on Tuesday.
In addition to Soules, Sen. Richard Martinez, D-Espanola, was one of the sponsors of the bill.
Democrats have made increasing the minimum wage a key part of their economic platform. Business interests including the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce have been lobbying heavily against the proposal.