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Lexington legislator will introduce bill in 2021 General Assembly to increase minimum wage to $15/hr

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Legislation is being prepared for the 2021 Kentucky General Assembly to increase the minimum wage for workers in Kentucky.

Reginald Thomas

The proposal, from Sen. Reginald Thomas, D-Lexington, would raise the minimum wage with staggered increases over the next five years, ultimately bringing minimum wage up to $15 an hour by 2026. Another provision would let individual cities enact their own minimum wage laws.

The current minimum wage in Kentucky has remained at $7.25 an hour since 2008.

“Right now, times are hard,” Thomas said. “The global pandemic has brought to light many of the struggles working Kentuckians deal with every day. As the market rebounds and people return to work, they need a wage that is livable to support themselves and their families.”

He also made note of the U.S. House of Representatives’ proposal last year to raise the minimum wage to $15 nationwide over the next six years and pointed out that Arkansas enacted legislation to gradually increase the minimum wage in that state to $12 last year.

“If Arkansas can do it, it is time for Kentucky to raise its minimum wage,” said Thomas. “If we want to
attract and retain workers here in Kentucky, we must pay a fair wage.”

His measure would also increase tip wages over the next four years for servers and those in the food industry. The tip wages would increase to $3.25 in 2022, $4.15 in 2023 and $5 in 2024.

Thomas adds, his legislation will be filed before the General Assembly convenes for the 2021 Regular Session on Jan. 5.

Similar bills he has sponsored during the past three years have not made it out of committee.

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