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Legislators vote to hike minimum wage in Vermont

Part of flurry of action before session ends

MONTPELIER — The Vermont House has agreed with the Senate to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.50 by 2018, as lawmakers adjourned for the year.

The current state minimum wage is $8.73 per hour.

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‘‘Any time we can put money in the hands of Vermonters who need it most, it’s a win,’’ said Representative Tom Stevens, a Waterbury Democrat, as he presented the bill to his colleagues Friday night. ‘‘Is it enough? It’s a start.’’

Governor Peter Shumlin issued a statement praising the bill. ‘‘I will be proud to sign it,’’ he said.

The State House was filled with frenetic activity Friday and Saturday, as conference committees met on budget and tax packages for fiscal 2015 and reached deals on several other bills, including one streamlining the process for medicating mentally ill patients against their will.

Majority Democrats in the House in March had passed a minimum wage increase to $10.10 an hour to take effect in January, but the Senate called for a slower approach. The House was ready to pass a compromise Thursday evening, but a printer’s error — the wrong bill on the matter had been placed in the legislative calendar — caused it to be delayed.

In other action, the House had passed a bill mandating that districts consolidate with their neighbors within the next six years, cutting the number of districts from more than 270 to about 50. The Senate balked at the mandates, and it was expected a conference committee would be appointed to work out the differences.

But House Republicans would not agree to suspend the rules to pass the education bill. On Saturday, the measure was killed.

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