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S.55

Introduced by Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs

Date:

Subject:  Labor; minimum wage; cost of living; increase; taxation; beverage container deposit program

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to increase the minimum wage to reflect increases in the cost of living in order to assure that the wages of Vermont workers keep pace with inflation and to avoid the political battles that ensue when the minimum wage does not increase automatically.  This bill also requires the department of taxes to promote applications for the Advance Earned Income Tax Credit; and directs the secretary of natural resources to make recommendations regarding the beverage container deposit recycling program.

AN ACT RELATING TO INCREASING THE MINIMUM WAGE AND OTHER ECONOMIC STIMULI FOR LOW INCOME TAXPAYERS AND BOTTLE RETURN BUSINESSES

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  21 V.S.A. § 384(a) is amended to read:

(a)  An employer shall not employ an employee at a rate less than $6.25 an hour, beginning on January 1, 2004 at a rate less than $6.75 an hour, and beginning on January 1, 2005 at a rate less than $7.00 an hour, and on January 1, 2006, at a rate increased by a percentage based on the Consumer Price Index, CPI-U, U.S. city average, not seasonally adjusted, or successor index, as calculated by the U.S. Department of Labor, or successor agency for the 12 months preceding August 2005.  Thereafter, beginning on January 1, 2008, and every other January 1 thereafter, the minimum wage rate shall be increased by a percentage based on the same Consumer Price Index, computed for the 12 months preceding the previous August, compounded annually.  In no event shall the minimum wage increase by more than five percent per year, compounded annually.  The minimum wage rate shall be rounded off to the nearest $0.01.  An employer in the hotel, motel, tourist place, and restaurant industry shall not employ a service or tipped employee beginning on January 1, 2004 at a basic wage rate less than $3.58 an hour, beginning on January 1, 2005 at a basic wage rate less than $3.65 an hour and thereafter at a rate to be determined when that rate shall be increased by the same percentage as the increase in the minimum wage is increased rate under this subsection.  For the purposes of this subsection, “a service or tipped employee” means all those, in either employees of hotels, motels, tourist places, and restaurants who customarily and regularly receives receive more than $30.00 per month in tips for direct and personal customer service.  If the minimum wage rate established by the United States government is greater than the rate established for Vermont for any year, the minimum wage rate for that year shall be the rate established by the United States government. 

Sec. 2.  DEPARTMENT OF TAXES; FEDERAL ADVANCE EARNED

             INCOME TAX CREDIT

(a)  The department of taxes shall implement a marketing and outreach campaign to educate and encourage more Vermonters to file an IRS form W-5, the application for the federal Advance Earned Income Tax Credit.  This campaign shall be implemented immediately and in no case later than June 1, 2005. 

(b)  On or before June 1, 2006, the department shall file a report with the General Assembly outlining the marketing and outreach efforts undertaken and the increase in Vermont applicants for the Advance Earned Income Tax Credit.

Sec. 3.  AGENCY OF NATURAL RESOURCES; BOTTLE HANDLING     FEE INCREASE; STUDY

The secretary of the agency of natural resources shall:

(1)  Study:

(A)  The advisability of increasing the fee paid to retailers by distributors for handling and storing recycled beverage containers to reflect increases in handling and service costs. 

(B)  Equitable distribution of the escheat money that results from deposits paid for containers that are not returned.

(C)  Changes to and expansion of the existing program for deposit‑redemption of beverage containers.

(2)  Issue findings and recommendations in a report to the senate committees on natural resources and energy and on economic development, housing and general affairs and to the house committees on natural resources and energy and on commerce on or before September 1, 2005.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us