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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon Governor Signs Minimum Wage Increase Into Law

Chris Lehman
Northwest News Network
Oregon Governor Kate Brown holds up a bill she just signed. It will raise the state's minimum wage over the next six years.

It’s official: Oregon’s minimum wage will increase over the next six years after Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed the bill Wednesday at a state Capitol ceremony. Brown called the measure her top priority for this year's legislative session.

The bill sets up three different minimum wages: One for the Portland metro area, a lower one for mid-size communities, and the lowest for rural parts of the state. The governor said that three-tiered system is what makes the wage hike unique.

"We have taken a very smart approach by implementing the raise in a way that makes sense for workers and for businesses, no matter where in Oregon they are,” Brown said.

By 2022, the minimum wage will hit as much as $14.75 per hour in Portland. The first increase of up to 50 cents per hour kicks in this July.

The bill received no Republican support in the legislature. GOP lawmakers said it would harm businesses.

With the passage of the bill, a union-funded group called the Raise the Wage Coalition that was circulating an initiative to raise the minimum wage announced it would suspend its signature-collection efforts.

A separate group says it will continue its efforts to get a different minimum wage hike on the November ballot in Oregon. That group, called 15 Now Oregon, says the six-year phase-in under the bill signed by the governor is too slow for low-wage workers.