A proposal to increase Hawaii's minimum wage has passed the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and now heads to the full Senate for a vote.
Advocates of the bill include nonprofit organizations that say the move would help people who earn minimum wage keep pace with Hawaii's high cost of living.
They say that some Hawaii residents are forced into homelessness because they can't afford to pay rent despite being employed.
Hawaii's business community staunchly opposes the measure, saying that the increase will force many businesses to cut jobs and do more harm than good.
Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom told committee members that the minimum wage hike is a "job destroyer."
The debate in the Hawaii state Legislature mirrors the national debate over President Barack Obama's minimum wage increase proposal.