WATTS (CBSLA.com) — A Los Angeles City Council committee will hold a public hearing in Watts tonight to talk about a proposal to raise the minimum wage to as high as $15.25 per hour by 2019.

The Economic Development Committee hearing is one of several meetings being held around the city over the next week to give the public a chance to weigh in on the plan. Meetings are also scheduled for March 31 at 6 p.m. at Van Nuys City Hall, 6262 Van Nuys Blvd., and April 2 at 6 p.m. at the Museum of Tolerance, 9786 W. Pico Blvd.

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The City Council is debating a proposal to raise the minimum wage from $9 an hour to $13.25 an hour by 2017, to $15.25 an hour by 2019, and higher levels in subsequent years based on the Consumer Price Index.

Proponents of the wage hike proposal say it will lift hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers out of poverty and that businesses are capable of absorbing the increased costs, but critics say the plan will drive businesses out of the city and slow job growth.

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Some business groups are urging the City Council to make some exceptions for certain employers, such as small businesses, nonprofits and employers of teen workers. They are also asking city officials to consider creating different rules for workers who receive tips, such as restaurant waiters, who tend to earn more than their minimum wages.

Groups pushing for the minimum wage hike want the City Council to adopt the largest possible hike – to $15.25 rather than raising it only to $13.25 as proposed by Mayor Eric Garcetti. These groups also want the measure to include provisions that require employers to give their workers paid time off and to set up a wage enforcement bureau to ensure that, if a higher minimum wage is adopted, businesses would adhere to them.

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The committee met earlier this week to hear presentations on three studies of the economic effects of the minimum wage proposal.

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