House Bill 326 by Rep. Canales part of statewide measures designed to increase the minimum wage for working Texans

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Featured, from left: Erika Canales, seated, bears witness as her husband, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, takes the oath of office on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives  at the State Capitol in Austin on Tuesday, January 12, 2016, as he begins his third term representing House District 40 in Hidalgo County. Photograph By ALEX RÍOS

Texas Border Business

House Bill 326, which would prohibit an employer from keeping any portion of a gratuity paid to or left for a tipped employee, has been filed by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, as part of a series of proposals by Texas lawmakers designed to increase the minimum wage in Texas. HB 326 would benefit thousands of such employees whose hard work still leave them in poverty. “Every time a business is paid with a debit card or credit card, that firm must pay a fee for that financial service,” Canales explained.

“But for waitpersons in restaurants – those professionals who provide excellent service and depend on gratuities to make a living – it is unfair if employers pay that fee from the worker’s tips.” 

In a related measure, Canales in 2015 voted for House Joint Resolution 26, which proposed an amendment to the Texas Constitution that would establish the minimum wage in Texas at $10.10 an hour, or the federal minimum wage, whichever is higher. House Joint Resolution 26 was defeated by Republicans in the House of Representatives on May 15, 2015.

However, for the current five-month legislative session, which began in early January 2017, similar measures have been filed. According to the Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP), if legislation to increase the minimum wage is approved by the Texas Legislature later this spring and not vetoed by Gov. Greg Abbott, more than 67,000 workers in Hidalgo County, or about 43.1 percent of the labor force, would get a pay increase, Canales noted.

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