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Minimum wage bills pushed in at least 30 states

Democrats Minimum Wage

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - 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.

"We are facing a huge income gap that only continues to widen, where the workers at the top see large wage increases and the workers at the bottom are at a standstill. That needs to change," said Massachusetts Democratic Senate President Therese Murray.

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 hike 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.

Labor unions and other advocates point to workers like Andrew Lloyd, who cleans the cabins, bathrooms and cockpits of airplanes between flights at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City for $8 an hour. With a wife and 1-year-old, he relies on food stamps to help stock the refrigerator and his paychecks barely cover diapers and other needs of his daughter. He said he can't afford a new pair of socks for himself.

"It's not enough. What we're making is not enough to support," Lloyd said. "There's just no way they can justify what is going on is right."

Opponents, many of them Republicans, argue that the higher wages translate into fewer jobs and higher consumer costs. So wage hike bills in Republican-controlled legislatures, like Florida and South Carolina, are not expected to pass. In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott said the claim that working families need the boost to make ends meet makes him "cringe, because I know that statement is a lie."

"Even if we did raise the minimum wage, working families will still not be able to make ends meet on those jobs," Scott said. "We need good jobs that lead to good careers for our families, and that's what I am focused on."

Already, a Democrat-backed bill to increase Indiana's minimum wage by $1 was blocked by majority Republicans on a party-line vote Tuesday.

Win or lose, the legislation gives Democrats a potential weapon against Republican opponents. Eddie Vale, a Democratic strategist with close ties to labor unions, said Republicans who oppose a wage hike will face fierce criticism.

"There's a lot of people in this state that are making the minimum wage that are voting Republican right now," said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Tennessee, where they plan to introduce a minimum wage bill this year. "Maybe if they see that they don't have their best interests in their heart, they might change their minds."

There's hope that success will breed more success. Vale, a top adviser at the Democratic super PAC American Bridge, said the thinking behind the push is to get things started at the state level, where lawmakers come into more direct contact with their constituents. Once state legislatures start moving, it will lend momentum to a federal expansion.

In Minnesota, Rep. Ryan Winkler said as the debate spreads to more states, lawmakers might be more comfortable boosting the wage floor in his state.

"It's not peer pressure, but it's safety in numbers," Winkler said. "It makes people feel like this is a mainstream thing to do."

___

Contributing were Associated Press writers Philip Elliott in Washington; Steve LeBlanc in Boston; Gary Fineout in Tallahassee, Fla.; Erik Schelzig in Nashville, Tenn.; and Tom LoBianco in Indianapolis.

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imspacedout89 January 27 2014 at 6:59 PM

Soon places like McDonalds and wallmart will just replace counter workers with automated screans if this keeps up.

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imspacedout89 January 27 2014 at 6:57 PM

Soon places like mcdo

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tmspitrow January 27 2014 at 9:32 AM

PAY THE WORKERS A DECENT WAGE.
WHY SHOULD WE,THE TAX PAYER,MAKE UP THE DIFFERENCE?
WAL MART TELLS THEIR WORKERS TO FILE FOR FOOD STAMPS.
WHY?

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dvdbrrtt62 January 27 2014 at 1:59 PM

Sorry but the bigger issue is one of personal responsibility. Like the MCD worker, 10 yrs on the job with 2 kids, 7 & 5, and complaining about the wages she makes being unable to raise her family. How did she ever expect to raise a family on the income she was earning before she got pregnant? Where is the father of these children? In the story she was a single parent. Raising the minimum wage is only a bandied and will not fix the uneducated, single mom having children she cannot afford.

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jojumalo January 27 2014 at 7:46 AM

That just means a trip to the nail salon will cost more! The cost of 20's will go up
But maybe and just maybe when you do order a burger with NO cheese it just might come out that way!

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rlupia January 27 2014 at 7:43 AM

The Dems push for the minimum wage because that will inevitably lead to more unemployment and eventually more people on welfare and therefore give them control over more peoples lives.

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JOHN LYNN TERRY January 27 2014 at 7:22 AM

If they raise the minimum to lets say $ 15.00 per hour, I will start working in Burger King or McDonalds.

That is an incredible wage for handing a burger and fries over the counter. Even a child can do that.

What is the need for education or experience.

Right now, we pay higher wages for those with experience in difficult tasks.

Wow, with the Democrats bringing in 50 to 60 Million unskilled illegal aliens which in turn will reduce the opportunities for people born here, then corporations will have lots of cheap labor, become ever richer and the Democrats can have a larger voting bases which will keep them in power.

Genius.

I just can not wait to tell the average hard working American Citizen, the wonderful news.

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1 reply to JOHN LYNN TERRY's comment
nam2205 January 27 2014 at 8:06 AM

You couldn't be more right. There are so many repercuuuions that alot of people don't see. In essence its communisim. Everyone on the same level, and no insentive to learn more or do better. After all, weather your smart or dumb, and good worker or not, you get the same pay. That is not the American way.

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comfortablyxxxnumb January 27 2014 at 7:19 AM

It's a double edged sword. More money for workers, higher prices for goods and services as well as fewer workers. So, one may make another 3 dollars an hour, but the things they buy also cost more and you may end up working much harder since your employer cannot afford to pay all it's workers that kind of salary and remain in business.
Minimum wage was designed to aid people as they seek to improve their way of life through learning a skill or getting an education...as well as supliment the low income of the elderly that wish to continue to work. It was not designed to "live on". I have worked for min. wage and so has my wife. Both of us succeeded in improving our lives. I did it through hard work and determination. It got me to a point where I could make enough to survive on while she returned to school (at 40 yr. of age) and become a registered nurse. It wasn't easy, but often the best solution is not the easiest. Those on min. wage must make choices. Do you want to stay where you are, or sacrifice even more in order to improve your life. Those tattoos? Don't need them. THose piercings? Don't need them. That smart phone? Don't need it. Designer clothes? Don't need them. That $20k car? Don't need one. That big screen t.v.? Don't need it. Xbox or video games? Don't need them. $120 tennis shoes? Don't need them. Direct t.v. or cable? Don't need them. Condoms are cheaper than children.
When we started to dig ourselves out of the hole we found ourselves in, we lived in a 4 room unsulated house with no a/c, 1 space heater, and drove a car that was 12 yr. old. We blocked off one room of the house and lived in the other 3. Most of our furnishings and appliances were 2nd. hand. We both worked 8+ hrs. a day and I usually picked up odd jobs (carpentry and lawn care) over the weekends. We grew a small garden and we both hunted and fished for most of our food. IT CAN BE DONE. You just have to make up your mind as to what you need and what you want. Survive on what you need, work hard for what you want.

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fox12ga January 27 2014 at 7:12 AM

Raise the minimum wage any you will end up with a better class of workers more qualified and better educated with better work habits These people that are demanding more money will be out of a job If they feel their worth more then they should be looking for better paying employment
Most of the minimum wage emplotee's I have encountered aren't hardly worth what their getting paid now In North Carolina in a very nice clothing store 3 cashiers could not figure out 10% discount because because the computerized cash register went down and they couldn't find the calculater.

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Business,News January 27 2014 at 6:59 AM

Raising minimum wage never changes anything. Minimum wage goes up & everything goes up in price to off set the price for employee. (all wish it does not happen that way but, reality, it does.)

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1 reply to Business,News's comment
whstokey January 27 2014 at 7:24 AM

Raising minimum wages just creates an incentive to keep doing what you have always done even though it's a dead end job with no future. Tax the rich and that cost comes back in higher consumer cost because they are the ones that own the production and distribution so it's a pass through plus their margins. Taxes and/or an increase in labor cost all work the same. The only ones doing better from outcome based thinking are the politicians buying you vote with someone elses money!

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John January 27 2014 at 6:58 AM

People deserve to earn a livable wage and if stocks drop a few points Wall street will survive. These wall street fat ctas can drive last years BMW so families can at least eat better.

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2 replies to John's comment
whstokey January 27 2014 at 7:18 AM

Envy isn't a solution to anything. We need to be more competitive in the world and all economic boats will float higher unless there is a hole in your skill sets and/or capital base. If the only goal you have is flipping burger's then reset your expectations. If you goal is to achieve in life then start early and do what it takes to keep climbing the economic ladder. If you want what other's have then do what other's do to make it happen and meanwhile quit whinning.

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nam2205 January 27 2014 at 8:15 AM

hahahahaa,,, you are so funny. This would not hurt people on Wall St. Do you really think that they would pay the price? If you do , you are an idiot. The consumer will pay. I could see that if you work at Mc Donalds you would want this, but where do you get off thinking that you should get paid the same as a skilled worker. It doesn't make sense. Well leftwing democrats never do.

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