Five States To Vote On Minimum Wage Legislation Today

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Ted Goodman Reporter

Voters in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington will decide on ballot measures that would give low-wage workers a pay increase, while in South Dakota, voters will decide on a measure that would decrease the state’s minimum wage for workers under the age of 18.

Colorado, Arizona and Maine have measures on the ballot that would gradually increase the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020. In Washington, the initiative would phase in a $13.50 minimum wage by 2020.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders made increased wages a focal point of his Democratic primary campaign, and both Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton support an increase to the minimum wage.

An Oct. 30 poll showed that Maine voters were in favor of increasing the state’s minimum wage, with 57 percent support for the measure. The poll, conducted by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, revealed that even some small business owners agree with paying employees a higher wage.

South Dakota voters will decide whether or not to lower the minimum wage for minors. In March 2015, the state passed a law that would pay minors $7.50 an hour for work. South Dakota’s Republican-controlled legislature argued lowering the wage for younger workers increases the likelihood they would get jobs, providing them with valuable work experience at a young age.

“State and local action is putting more pressure on the federal government. The growing support for higher wages across the country is showing that you can increase wages and improve communities, improve conditions for families and workers,” Laura Huizar, staff attorney for the National Employment Law Project, told CNBC.

The last federal minimum wage increase went into effect in 2009, which set the new minimum at $7.25 an hour. Since then, 29 states and the District of Columbia have raised their state minimum wages above the federal minimum. A total of two million people are expected to be affected by today’s ballot measures in the five states.

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