On Monday, New York state lawmakers and advocates will join together at the Capitol to announce that the newly minted chair of the Assembly Labor Committee, Rochester’s Harry Bronson, will be the prime Assembly sponsor of legislation that would create a minimum wage parity between upstate and downstate New York.

The bill, known as the Upstate Parity and Minimum Wage Protection Act, would create a statewide minimum wage floor of $17 per hour. As of Jan. 1, the minimum wage in New York City, Westchester and Long Island sits at $16 per hour. In upstate New York, that figure rests at $15 per hour. By 2026, the minimum wage in non-upstate areas will rise to $17 per hour, while upstate will rise to $16 per hour.

In 2023, the Legislature passed and Gov. Kathy Hochul approved legislation that would index the minimum wage to inflation starting in 2027. However, the minimum wage does not increase if there is an increase in unemployment. The legislation, which Bronson will sponsor, would repeal that rule.

Bronson, who became the chair of the Assembly Labor Committee after the resignation of previous chair Latoya Joyner, had been a small business owner until recently when he and his husband sold their Rochester coffee shop, Equal=Grounds. In an exclusive statement to Capital Tonight, Bronson said these changes “create a true and fair minimum wage,” and added the legislation closes “loopholes that need to be closed for New Yorkers to see the full impact” of a minimum wage increase.

The legislation is sponsored in the state Senate by Bronson’s committee counterpart, Jessica Ramos. The bill must pass by the end of the year, or it will need to be reintroduced in the new legislative session.