The Senate on a 26 to 12 party-line vote approved the proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15, sending the measure to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature.
As debate over the proposed minimum wage bill continued inside the state Capitol on Thursday, an incident that occurred during a rally outside the building drew fire and police officials and quickly raised alarm.
The Sacramento Fire Department initially described the event as a “mass casualty incident,” adding to the concern.
About 7,000 people were gathered outside the Capitol for a rally with Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, according to Chris Harvey, public information officer for the Sacramento Fire Department.
Reports of threats made during the rally have not been substantiated, Harvey said. During the event, the fire department and California Highway Patrol received “numerous” calls from people who were feeling lightheaded and experiencing chest pains and dizziness.
Five people were taken to the hospital to be treated, and some passed out, Harvey said. One person was evaluated at the scene and refused treatment.
Fire officials say the injuries were heat-related despite temperatures being in the mid-60s, and may have been caused by the tightly packed crowds gathered on the Capitol grounds.
Earlier in the day, Sacramento police removed a suspicious package found in a parking structure across the street from the Capitol, KCRA-TV reported. No evacuations or street closures were in effect.
State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) told his colleagues during the lengthy floor debate that his bill would lift many hard-working Californians out of poverty.
“Workers are struggling.” Leno said. “Two point two million Californians are currently earning minimum wage, and they are struggling in poverty because it is a sub-poverty wage.”
Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) added, “Everybody should have a crack at the brass ring, the American dream.”
But Republican Sen. Ted Gaines of Rocklin said the bill is a “death sentence” for struggling businesses in his district.
“Our job in this building is to help people climb the economic ladder, not cut off the bottom rungs,” Gaines said on the floor. “That is exactly what will happen if we shove this unprecedented cost increase on businesses.”
Republican Sen. Jim Nielsen said increasing the minimum wage will hurt new workers and lead to mechanization of jobs. “You will go to the hamburger store and you won’t have a young person or elderly person to wait on you,” he said.
A final printout of the vote tally:
It is well-intentioned, but it’s not the way we should be pulling people out of poverty.
Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar)