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Minimum-wage bills pushed in at least 30 states



Published: Mon, January 27, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y.

Minimum-wage increase proposals are getting the maximum push from Democrats in statehouses in more than half of U.S. states, highlighting the politically potent income inequality issue this year.

Lawmakers in at least 30 states are sponsoring or are expected to introduce wage hike measures, according to a national review by The Associated Press. They hope to notch state-level victories as President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats remain stymied in attempts to raise the federal minimum wage above $7.25 an hour. The president is expected to mention the minimum wage in his State of the Union address Tuesday.

Even in Republican-dominated capitals where the bills are longshots, the measures still give Democrats a chance to hammer home the popular theme of fair wages in what is an election year in most places.

“It’s a no-brainer for any Democrat,” said Neil Sroka, a strategist for progressive groups who is communications director at the Howard Dean-founded Democracy for America. “Congress is failing. They can take real action right in the states and have a demonstrable impact right here at home. For politics and policy, it’s a winning strategy.”

Minimum wage is a perennial issue that has taken on a higher profile amid the slowly recovering economy and growing public debate about income inequality. A Quinnipiac University poll this month found 71 percent of Americans in favor of raising the minimum wage — including more than half of Republicans polled.

Michael Sargeant, executive director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, calls it an “organic issue that’s bubbling up from the grassroots.” But it’s also being pressed by politicians and labor unions. Democrats challenging Republican governors have taken up the issue, and there are ballot initiatives in several states.

Five states passed minimum-wage measures last year, and advocates hope that number will grow as states from New Hampshire to Washington consider proposals. Many would push families above the federal poverty line, which is $15,730 for a family of two. In Iowa, a bill would increase the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10. A Rhode Island bill would raise it from $8 to $9. And a year after New York approved a multiyear minimum-wage hike, Assembly Democrats introduced another bill for 2014 sponsored by Labor Committee Chairman Carl Heastie of New York City that would accelerate the increase.


Comments

1lajoci(374 comments)posted 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Minimum wage needs to go to $16/hr to keep pace with the last 40 years of inflation.

Crazy? What's crazy are the guzzillions in profits low-wage paying companies are raking in. More must be done to curb the exploitation of the poor in this new Gilded Age.

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2Photoman(1018 comments)posted 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Looks like a mixed bag to me. Push those wages higher and more manufacturing jobs will go overseas, service industries will cut back on the number of employees and new small business will be unable to start hiring due payroll costs. Overall, it appears that the Chinese will once again be the winners.

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3redeye1(4687 comments)posted 10 months, 3 weeks ago

lajoc If they would push minimum wages to $15.00 places like Wal-Mart would be bankrupt within weeks. Just because you think they are making millions right , they would lose money by the boatload with that like of raise. Besides who really pays for such a large raise . You and me the consumers that's who with much higher prices.

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