Republican lawmakers have introduced a measure to delay by one year an increase to the minimum wage set to take place in March.
Public Law 35-38, which was enacted in October 2019, increases the minimum wage from $8.25 to $9.25 over two years. The first 50-cent increase went into effect on March 1, 2020. The second increase takes effect on March 1.
The new measure, Bill 23-36, would reset the second wage increase to start on March 1, 2022.
Sens. James Moylan, Mary Camacho Torres, Christopher Duenas and Frank Blas Jr. sponsored the bill.
The bill has the support of the Guam Chamber of Commerce, Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association, Guam Contractors Association and possibly more, according to Moylan.
GHRA President Mary Rhodes said the one-year deferral is needed for multiple reasons.
"There is the impact that COVID has had on businesses and the economy, and it's going to be already challenging for businesses to reopen and bring in additional staff. There are costs already associated with reopening and one of those things we don't need to do is increase additional costs," Rhodes said.
The intent of Bill 23 states it would be "unreasonable to mandate additional costs on businesses" given that many are still in a recovery phase and tourism arrivals in 2021 appear questionable.
"It would also help reduce the additional burden placed on those businesses this year who are attempting to bring their employees back to work despite the economic conditions," Bill 23 states.
There were calls to delay the wage hike that went into effect last year as well, with businesses citing concerns with the effects of the pandemic, but Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero maintained that the hike would proceed as planned.