Ohio House panel OKs raise in minimum wage

COLUMBUS (AP) -- A sharply divided House committee voted Tuesday to increase Ohio's minimum wage 90 cents to $5.15 an hour, bringing the state in line with the federal minimum level.
The House State Government Committee approved the measure 7-6 as part of bill overhauling changes to Ohio's workers' compensation laws. The GOP-controlled committee voted along partisan lines with the exception of Rep. Tom Patton, a Strongsville Republican who opposed the change.
The bill goes next to the House for a full vote.
Rep. Chuck Blasdel, an East Liverpool Republican and a candidate for Congress, proposed the change in the minimum wage increase.
Rep. Larry Flowers, a committee member voting in favor of the change, said most businesses already pay above the state and federal minimums.
"It's the right thing to do," said Flowers, a suburban Columbus Republican. "Ohio ought to be in line with the federal number."
Another increase
Advocates for higher wages say the move won't stop them from pushing a ballot initiative this fall to raise the minimum wage to $6.85.
"That is not enough to sustain a family," said Sen. C.J. Prentiss of Cleveland, the Senate's top-ranking Democrat and a longtime advocate of a higher minimum wage.
Ohio and Kansas are the only states to have a minimum wage lower than the federal minimum of $5.15 per hour. Ohio's minimum has been $4.25 since 1991.
A group called Ohioans for a Fair Minimum Wage plans to collect the 322,000 signatures of registered voters needed to put the constitutional amendment on November's ballot.
Campaign contributions
The bill approved Tuesday also eliminated a workers' comp policy that had capped campaign contributions made by investment managers to political campaigns for state offices at $250.
That rule was put in place after the state corruption scandal unfolded in April, including allegations that a rare coin dealer who contributed thousands of dollars to Republican candidates received an unorthodox deal from the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation to invest $50 million in rare coins.

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