The Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that would raise the state’s $8 hourly minimum wage to $11 per hour by 2017.

After brief debate, the House of Representatives approved the measure 124-24, following the Senate vote that approved the hike last week 35-4.

The bill goes back to both chambers for a procedural vote before heading to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s desk. He has signaled he will sign it, according to reports.

The federal minimum wage remains at $7.25 an hour. President Barack Obama supports a $10.10 federal minimum wage, but Congress has shown little movement on pushing that plan forward.

The Massachusetts Legislature’s minimum wage approval comes amid a growing number of cities passing minimum wage increases. San Francisco and Chicago have both introduced proposals to increase their minimum wages to $15 an hour.

On June 2, Seattle’s City Council raised the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour in a phased-in plan.

The International Franchise Association has filed suit in U.S. District Court to block Seattle’s law, saying it violates both the equal protection clause and the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.

In response to the Chicago proposal, the IFA argued that the city council members misunderstood the franchisee-franchisor relationship, which it said would unfairly penalize franchisee operators if the $15-per-hour draft ordinance gets adopted.

An IFA spokesman said the IFA was not participating with such intensity in the Massachusetts vote.

“While we’re not in favor of raising the minimum wage,” said Matthew Haller, an IFA spokesman, “the Massachusetts proposal does not affect franchisees in the same way.”

The Massachusetts House’s minimum wage vote drew support from advocacy groups.

Holly Sklar, director of Boston-based Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, said in a statement, “Massachusetts led the nation in passing the first state minimum wage a century ago in June 1912, and Massachusetts will again be leading with an $11 wage floor that is good for business, good for customers and good for our economy.”

Alden Booth, owner of The People's Pint, a restaurant and brewery in Greenfield, Mass., added: "We already pay a minimum of $11 an hour for all our employees and that is barely a living wage in Western Mass towns, let alone the Eastern urban areas, where the cost of living is higher."

Contact Ron Ruggless at ronald.ruggless@penton.com.
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