Bills to Raise Minimum Wage Promoted in 14 States in 2014

By James Beattie | January 7, 2014 | 2:44pm EST

Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have bills in the works to raise their minimum wage in 2014, one month after President Obama gave his income inequality speech.  Senate Democrats are also pushing for a national minimum wage increase. Another 13 states have already increased their minimum wage in the past year.

Last month, President Obama made remarks on the income inequality theme in Washington, DC, saying, in part, that:

"The idea that so many children are born into poverty in the wealthiest nation on Earth is heartbreaking enough.  But the idea that a child may never be able to escape that poverty because she lacks a decent education or health care, or a community that views her future as their own, that should offend all of us and it should compel us to action.  We are a better country than this."

After 13 states raised their minimum wage last year, 14 more and the District of Columbia are taking the president's lead and seeking to do the same in 2014.

Senate Democrats are looking to increase the federal minimum wage by 40 percent as part of a larger package to extend unemployment benefits, and close tax loopholes on corporations.

The District of Columbia Council approved a minimum wage increase to $11.50 last month that must be voted upon again, and is likely to have the votes to override a veto by Mayor Vincent Gray, who prefers a smaller increase to $10.  A bill in the Massachusetts House of Representatives awaits a vote to increase the Bay State's minimum wage from $8 to $11 over three years after the Senate overwhelmingly approved an increase last month.

Minnesota is also likely to increase its state minimum wage, with separate proposals passed in both the Democratic-controlled House and Senate.  There are also two proposals in both chambers of the Vermont legislature which could raise the minimum wage to as much as $12.50, where Democrats control the legislature and the governorship.

However, Democratic State Senator Kevin Mullin told he did not have a lot of confidence in its passing.

"Talk about the biggest inflationary jump and job-loser in the state," Mullin said. "Obviously, I don't have a lot of love for it."

Legislative leaders in Maryland told county officials last month that they expected their legislature to consider raising the minimum wage.

A minimum wage increase is being considered in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Kentucky, each of which has divided government.  New Hampshire abolished a state-established minimum wage in 2011.

Nebraska is considering a minimum wage bill in a nonpartisan unicameral legislature.  All of the state's constitutional officers are Republicans.

New York legislators are pushing to tie the Empire State's minimum wage to inflation.  Like Iowa, New Hampshire, and Kentucky, New York's legislature is divided between Republican and Democrats.

Groups in two states are attempting to get a minimum wage increase on the ballots in their states this November.  The South Dakota Democratic Party is working to get a ballot initiative for November 2014 raising the minimum wage, boost the minimum wage for tipped workers, and index the minimum wage to rise with the cost of living in future years.  Raise Idaho looks to get a minimum wage increase on ballot in the Gem State.

Democrats in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and Indiana are proposing minimum wage increases in their respective states, where Republicans control the governorship and both houses of the legislature.

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