clear
Thursday September 3rd, 2015 3:14PM

Minn. lawmakers boost minimum wage to $9.50

By The Associated Press
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Minnesota workers earning the minimum wage will see yearly raises under a bill given final approval Thursday that pushes the hourly rate to $9.50 by 2016 and enables automatic increases in the future.

The bill gives Minnesota one of the nation's most generous pay floors after years of being among the states with the lowest minimum wage. The bill passed with only Democratic votes after Republicans said it would cause hardship on businesses and narrow opportunities for those the legislation is designed to help.

The state House passed the bill a day after the Senate, both of which are controlled by Democrats. Gov. Mark Dayton announced plans to sign the bill Monday afternoon.

"Thousands and thousands of families will have a better life because of what we do today," said Rep. Tim Mahoney, DFL-St. Paul.

Supportive lawmakers shared personal stories of flipping burgers or doing other entry-level jobs for little pay. "Many of the low-wage workers are the hardest working people I know," said Rep. Joe Radinovich, DFL-Crosby.

The floor wage required of most employers will climb from $6.15 per hour to $8 per hour in August. It goes to $9 next year and $9.50 the year after. In future years, the rate could rise by 2.5 percent through an inflationary mechanism. Those future hikes could be suspended if the economy stumbles, but officials could authorize catch-up increases once times improve.

Minnesota last raised its minimum wage in 2005.

Democratic backers hailed the bill as an overdue raise for more than 350,000 people making the least now. They said people in that situation tend to spend what they make quickly, helping cycle money into the local economy.

Republican lawmakers relayed concerns from business groups that the wage is rising too much too fast. They warned it would be a crushing blow on grocery stores and restaurants, causing them to raise prices or pare back employee rolls.

"I'm sure Minnesota will survive after this happens but a lot of people won't get that first line on their resume," said Republican Rep. Bob Gunther, a retired grocer from Fairmont. "It's going to be fair for some people. It's going to be devastating for others."

The GOP argued the hike will make Minnesota a geographic outlier. All of the state's neighbors match the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

"We can live in a fantasy land that maybe people are going to want to pay higher prices," said Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa. "But the economy does not work that way."

Minnesota is one of four states currently beneath the federal minimum wage, though many workers automatically receive the federal rate. Anyone involved in interstate commerce, such as a retail clerk swiping a credit card, are entitled to the higher of the two wages. Some workers such as baby-sitters, taxi drivers, nonprofit volunteers and others are exempt from the minimum wage.

"It's an embarrassment we have one of the lowest minimum wages in the country," said Rep. David Bly, DFL-Northfield.

All employers won't be bound by the same wage rules. The bill preserves a tiered structure the state currently has. Businesses with gross sales beneath $500,000 will see the wage top out at $7.75 in 2016. Workers younger than 20 would be subject to a lower temporary training wage and companies could continue paying 16 and 17 year olds less.

Minnesota's measure isn't as ambitious as Connecticut or Maryland, which recently passed laws to gradually boost their minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. California's wage hits $10 by January 2016. Washington state has the highest rate currently at $9.32, but it rises annually by the rate of inflation.

Democratic Rep. Ryan Winkler of Golden Valley, the bill's sponsor, said he was glad to see his state reverse course.

"We can choose to go the low-cost, low-tax, low-wage route. Some states are following it, and it is not going very well," Winkler said. "We do not have to accept a race to the bottom."
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 8 months ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 8 months ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 8 months ago )
U.S. News
State DOT awards $48M contract for NE Ga. road project
The state Department of Transportation has awarded a $47.8 million contract for nine miles of work on a northeast Georgia road.
9:37AM ( 8 months ago )
Business News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 8 months ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 8 months ago )
Maysville man dies from Banks County wreck
The Georgia State Patrol reports that alcohol and/or drugs were factors a single-vehicle wreck that claimed the life of a Maysville man in Banks County Tuesday night.
11:07AM ( 8 months ago )
Local/State News
GOP leader regrets talk to white supremacists; party leaders rally around him
House Republican leaders rallied around one of their own, Whip Steve Scalise, on Tuesday after he said he regrets speaking 12 years ago to a white supremacist organization and condemns the views of such groups.
6:08PM ( 8 months ago )
Conviction of Putin foe sets off protest in Moscow
President Vladimir Putin's chief political foe was convicted along with his brother on Tuesday in a fraud case widely seen as a vendetta by the Kremlin, triggering one of Russia's boldest anti-government demonstrations in years.
6:03PM ( 8 months ago )
More Georgians signing up for health insurance
A federal report says more Georgians have selected health insurance plans through a federally facilitated marketplace.
4:16PM ( 8 months ago )
Politics
College Board reports lower SAT scores, most test-takers missing college-ready benchmark
WASHINGTON (AP) — Student performance on the SAT college entrance exam is lagging, continuing a mostly downward trend over the last five years.The College Board says in a report that a record number o...
8:14AM ( 7 hours ago )
1 Marine killed, 9 others hurt in helicopter hard landing at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (AP) — One Marine has been killed and 9 others were hurt when a helicopter made a hard landing at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.The CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter came down hard...
7:41AM ( 7 hours ago )
Asian stock markets rise amid China holiday after getting perk from Wall Street rebound
Asian stocks rose Thursday after Wall Street rebounded from a sharp sell-off and as a holiday in China gave investors a break from its torrid markets.KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 was up 1.4 perce...
1:03AM ( 14 hours ago )
Watchdog: 900,000 vets may have pending health care requests; many of those may be deceased
WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly 900,000 military veterans have officially pending applications for health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the department's inspector general said Wednesday, but...
7:29PM ( 19 hours ago )
In Alaska wilderness, Obama stares down melting glacier to sound alarm on climate change
SEWARD, Alaska (AP) — President Barack Obama stared down a melting glacier in Alaska on Tuesday in a dramatic use of his presidential pulpit to sound the alarm on climate change.From a distance, Exit...
7:11PM ( 20 hours ago )