Lexington Lawmaker Revives Minimum Wage Hike Push

Sep 3, 2021

A Lexington Democrat is renewing his push for a statewide minimum wage increase, but the cause hasn't gained much traction in the GOP-dominated legislature.

Credit LRC Public Information

Kentucky hasn't raised its minimum wage since 2009, when the federal government set at a new rate at $7.25 an hour. Since then, attempts at local minimum wage hikes in Lexington and Louisville were ruled invalid by the state's high court.

That's led to recurring efforts to raise the wage at the state level, and 2022 will be no different -- with Lexington Sen. Reggie Thomas championing the cause. The lawmaker is making the case again with a new bill, which has the backing of the Senate's top Democrat, Morgan McGarvey.

"It's time that we had a policy here in Kentucky that says that if you want people to go to work, you have to pay them a living wage," Thomas said.

The lawmaker's bill starts with a jump to $9 an hour, moving up to $15 an hour by 2026.

Proponents have struggled to get a hearing for the idea with Republican leadership cool toward a wage increase. One factor that's changed this session: the pandemic and a workforce that's demanding more from potential employers.