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Interview Questions

What inspired you to introduce the bill hb396?
I believe it is important for all workers to be paid fairly and Texas has a high number of
workers living near or below federal poverty level. Texas is a family state and the current wage
level is detrimental to the “working poor” who are responsible for supporting a family.
What type of support did you receive when introducing the bill in the legislature?
To be clear, the Bill was never discussed on the Floor of the House. The Bill had a hearing
in the House Committee on Business & Industry, but was never voted out of committee. In fact,
the only proposal for raising the minimum wage that made it out of committee was House Joint
Resolution 26, a Constitutional Amendment, authored by Representative Trey Martinez-Fischer.
Had it passed, H.J.R. 26 was a constitutional amendment that would have been put on the
election ballot in Texas this coming November; however, it did not receive approval from the
Was the majority of the support from the Republican Party or Democratic Party
The majority of support was from the Democratic Party.
Could you name specific people or organizations that either supported or opposed your bill?
According to the witness records from the Business & Industry Committee public hearing:
Supporters at the public hearing were: the Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP), Texas
AFL-CIO, Workers Defense Project, Southwest Pipe Trades Association, The Texas Catholic
Conference of Bishops, Texas Building and Construction Trades Council, National Association of
Social Workers, Texas Democratic Party, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal
Employees, Texas State Employees Union, Progress Texas, Texas American Federation of
Teachers, Texans Care for Children, City of Austin, and several other individuals.
Those against were: the Texas Restaurant Association, Texas Food and Fuel Association,
Texas Eagle Forum, Texas Association of Business, Associated Builders and Contractors of Texas,
Fredericksburg Tea Party, National Federation of Independent Business, Texas Retailers
Association, and several other individuals.
What process does the research group preform to dissect the economy to figure out the minimum wage each year? What 
kind of calculations will be used?
For HB396, the minimum wage would be indexed to the consumer price index for Urban
Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), which is published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics
of the United States Department of Labor each year.
What group of people do you feel like this bill will really impact? What was your goal in presenting this bill?
This Bill would have impacted those Texans who are currently working hourly wage jobs at
a wage that is below the minimum wage set out in HB396 ($8.75 in the year 2016, and $10.10 in
the year 2017, an amount indexed to CPI after the year 2017). Many times, opponents claim that
by raising the minimum wage, this only helps students in high school or at the college level, and
opponents argue that they do not need an increase in the minimum wage. This is clearly not the
case in Texas, and statistics at the national level refute this as well.
According the 2015 Center for Public Policy Priorities Report: "It's Time to Raise the Wage in
Texas", if Texas adopted a minimum wage of $10.10 an hour, 2.4 million workers in the state of
Texas would get an increase in wages. According the same CPPP report, of those 2.4 million
workers who would benefit from a $10.10 an hour minimum wage, 60 percent are age 25-54, and
nearly half of these working adults also have children as dependents.

According to the 2014 Bureau of Labor Statistics Report: "Characteristics of Minimum
Wage Workers", statistics at the national level also indicate that an increase in the minimum
wage would not just impact teens and young adults. When discussing this report, it is important
to distinguish between all hourly wage workers, and the subset of that population who works for
an hourly wage at or below the federal minimum wage. For simplicity, I will refer to this subset as
"minimum wage workers".
Let us first analyze the entire population of hourly wage workers. According to the Report,
80.2% of all hourly wage workers are 25 years of age or older. Out of a national total of 77.2
million hourly wage workers, that is 61.9 million workers who are 25 years of age or older.
Furthermore, these 61.9 million hourly wage workers over the age of 24 are fairly evenly
distributed between the ages of 25-34, 35-44, and 45-54.
Now let us look at those hourly wage workers working at or below the federal minimum
wage. Again, opponents will argue that the majority of these "minimum wage workers" are
younger. It is true that only 2.5% of those hourly wage workers aged 25 years and older earn at
or below the federal minimum wage, while 9.4% of hourly wage workers age 16-24 years, or 15%
of those aged 16-19 years have wages at or below the federal minimum wage. These
percentages make it seem like younger individuals make up an overwhelming majority of
minimum wage workers. That simply is not the case. When looking at the actual number of
minimum wage workers in each category, one can begin to see why. In 2014, there were 1.5
million minimum wage workers aged 25 or older, and 1.4 million minimum wage workers aged
16-24. In percentages, that's 51.8% age 25 or older, and 48.2% age 16-24, or just about equal
with slightly more in the older category. While it might be correct to say that younger hourly
wage workers tend to take minimum wage jobs more often than their older counterparts, it is not
the same and not accurate to say that the overwhelming majority of minimum wage workers are
Still, other opponents might argue that we don’t need to raise the minimum wage,
because only 3.9% of hourly wage workers are being paid at or below the federal minimum wage
nationally. In other words, employers are already paying most hourly wage workers more than
$7.75 an hour. While 3.9% may be a small percentage, it represents nearly 3 million Americans.
Second, "more than $7.75 an hour" could be $15.00/hr, but it could also be $8.00/hr. Obviously
an individual making $8.00 an hour is not a "minimum wage worker", but this individual would
still see a pay increase if the minimum wage were increased. In other words, an increase in the
minimum wage is likely to benefit more individuals than just the minimum wage workers.
It is also important to keep in mind that for those workers working at an hourly wage at or
around the federal minimum wage, their annual income is often times right around the Federal
Poverty Level (FPL). As you may know, FPL is the amount of income a household needs to cover
basic needs like food, clothing, shelter, and other necessities, and FPL is used to determine
eligibility for certain government benefits and programs. Additionally, the federal poverty level is
different for households of different sizes, so it would differ for a single individual versus a family
with two adults and children. According to the CPPP Report on minimum wage in Texas, working
full time at federal minimum wage will earn an individual $15,080 at the end of the year, which
roughly breaks down to just $1,250 a month. Although this is above the Federal Poverty Level
(FPL) of $11,770/yr for a single individual, it is difficult to imagine being able afford the basic
necessities, let alone putting aside savings or anything else that would not be considered
"essential". And, don't even think about trying to support a family. For example, for a single
mother with just one child, a full time minimum wage income is already below the federal
poverty level of $15,930. Add just one more dependent at an FPL of $20,090, and this income
doesn't even come close. HB396 would affect many of these individuals and families, and be
especially helpful to single parents, who are predominantly women.
HB 396 would also impact the “under-employed,” those who would prefer to work a full 40hour week yet their work schedule does not allow that. Many jobs allow up to 30 or 35 hours a

week of work, with schedules that vary from day to day and week to week, making it difficult for
them to piece two jobs together to generate the equivalent of a “full time” income. Commonly,
those jobs are in the retail market, hotel-motel industry, construction, agriculture, and food
service businesses. Sometimes those work schedules drop to less than 30 hours per week,
making the minimum wage figure an even more important factor for these workers.
The goal of the Bill was to create a living wage for hard working Texans, and give them the
ability to meet their own individual and family goals of personal responsibility, financial
independence, and well-being. That is why HB396 would not only have raised the minimum wage
to $10.10 per hour starting in the year 2017, but it would have also indexed the state minimum
wage according to the consumer price index. Each year, the minimum wage would be increased
if there was an increase in the CPI, so that hourly wage workers in Texas could continue to make
a living wage in the future.
Will this bill also impact not only minimum wage for the state, but other base wages as well? (Say someone gets paid 
slightly over the federal wage now, will their pay also be raised to just the base wage issued by hb396 or go higher to 
remain in balance with the change? 
This Bill would only affect workers in the state of Texas, and would not affect those
employers with 25 or fewer employees. Regardless of whether or not an individual is being paid
below, at, or above the current federal minimum wage, if they were being paid less than the
amount specified in the Bill, their employer would be required to increase their wages to be at
least equal to the minimum wage as set in HB396.
Currently, the state minimum wage, which is set at the federal minimum wage amount,
pre-empts or "trumps" any minimum wages set by local governmental entities. House Bill 396
also contained a provision removing this state pre-emption. Removing the state pre-emption
would allow local governmental entities to set their own minimum wage, above that of the state
minimum wage. This would have allowed local governments to encourage businesses to offer
jobs with higher wages so as not to place a further burden on local government expenditures for
costs such as indigent health care, public school funding, mass transit, road maintenance, and
other public functions that draw heavily upon local government funding. This would have been
especially helpful in more highly populated areas.
What obstacles did you face when bringing the bill to the floor?
As mentioned previously, the bill did not make it the Floor of the House for a vote. The
Business & Industry Committee did not call a vote on the bill as there was not enough support in
that committee. In other words, the political will is just not there. The majority of the Legislature
does not believe that the government should be telling employers what to pay their employees.
When creating the bill did you look into other states legislature for examples to base your bill on? 
We did look at minimum wage laws in other states in order to get a general sense which
other states, and how many, already have a minimum wage above that of the federal minimum
wage, and also to see how other states have structured their minimum wage laws. We noticed
that many other states index their minimum wage to some measurement of inflation so that it
will automatically increase every year. We also looked at city ordinances raising the minimum
wage such as in Seattle, Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles, and others.
How will your bill hb396 effect government assistance?
There have been studies and data that have shown a connection between household
income at or below poverty level and participation in state and federal benefit programs such as
SNAP, TANF, and Medicaid. After all, it is the Federal Poverty Level that is used to determine
eligibility for certain government programs and benefits. It is logical to assume that an increase
in wages would lead to an increase in household income, and given the connection between
household income and participation in government assistance programs, one might also assume

that with an increase in household income, there would be a decrease in reliance on government
benefits for low-income earning individuals and families.
How do you see this impacting Texas? 
This Bill would not only have benefited the millions of hourly wage workers in the state of
Texas, but their children and other loved ones as well. Having Texas families be financially strong
and independent would no doubt have a great positive effect on the Texas economy, and most
importantly, would contribute to a brighter future for all Texans.