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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.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
scottt456 January 26 2014 at 7:46 PM

If you're over the age of...let's say 25...and you are deriving your income from a minimum-wage job, you have even more problems than you think.

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Hello Robin January 26 2014 at 6:20 PM

BRING ON THE ROBO-BURGER - MAYBE THEY WILL ACTUALLY GET MY ORDER RIGHT!!!!!!

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1 reply
dsmithabsolute Hello Robin January 26 2014 at 7:25 PM

At 7-8 an hour who cares about getting your order right !!!! and at that rate you don't want to know what their doing to your burger !! you are getting that special sauce !!!!!! LOL

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rolltide1 January 26 2014 at 3:28 PM

let's say i make 9 bucks an hour, a little over minimum wage, then they raise the min wage to that, i guess i would be considered poverty and able to apply for food stamps.

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1 reply
klasakt rolltide1 January 26 2014 at 3:49 PM

I was going to say that. I am an hourly worker, I work in a small office as the office manager ... basically everything regarding A/P, A/R, understanding the programs run by said company and being able to do those jobs as well, payroll, etc. If I am making $12 an hour because that was the only job I could find ... being over 50 ... what does that say about the burger flipper who thinks they are entitled to $15 an hour? Excluding our bosses and our maintenance guy, the three employees in our office all make under $15 an hour. All of us have multiple degrees ... BAs, MAs, etc. I did a similar job at 20 before I had my degrees and before computers were used on top of it. You take the job that is available to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head and do what YOU need to do to make it work. The day that fast food employees ... jobs really meant for teenagers and college students, not head of households ... is the day that I stop eating there. And if everyone thought like me, then the fast food industry would collapse and those same people would have no job at all. Then where will they be? With only GEDs and HS diplomas they will be hard pressed to find a job. When I was getting my first degree, there were 13 Ph.D. candidates for every Ph.D. job. That meant that 12 of those Ph.D. holders worked at a job "beneath" their education for less money. It is called a job for a reason. It is and never was guaranteed nor is anyone entitled to their jobs. There is no where in the Constitution of this country, nor the Declaration of Independence that guarantees you a home, a higher education nor a job. What they do guarantee is "life, liberty and the PURSUIT of happiness." If all these people are so brilliant, why do they not go out and start their own companies and keep all the profits for themselves? Do what Steve Jobs did ... start your business out of your garage in your spare time till it takes off.

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1 reply
klasakt klasakt January 26 2014 at 3:51 PM

oops ... meant to say "The day that fast food employees 'make $15 an hour' ..."

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debtger January 26 2014 at 3:29 PM

Don't you see that we are coming up to the mid terms and the Democrats play the race card, the inequality card and the class card to make all Republicans look like fat cats that don't want to share their wealth. Well, I'm not wealthy but I am a Republican and don't let these socialist pigs fool you.
Show me where things are better for you under this Administration. Obama had the White House and both houses of congress during his first two years. Tell me how he helped you find a job or did the jobs just disappear?

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numexind January 26 2014 at 3:29 PM

Have any of these people asking for an increase ever run a business? Running a business today in this country is almost impossible. The govt. with it's hand out and the workers who don't show or come in drunk or on drugs and the labor board defending them when they get fired, are just a few issues. The jobs are going out of the country or we're giving free education to the illegals, while our kids are trying to find any type of job! And the rich are begrudged for being successful? This cannot happen, especially while we are in dire straits. The minimum wage was not meant to support a family on to begin with.

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smi7837 January 26 2014 at 5:54 PM

Listening to under achievement is obviously done us wonders so far!Pathetic America.

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kvave January 26 2014 at 3:31 PM

This situation will NEVER get any better for ANY average Worker as long as we are a Nation of "Sound Bite" Voters , and locked in the tug between Far Left and Far Right.

Neither is what America was intended to be. And doing 100 percent of eithers "Ideal" will lead to destruction.

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2 replies
plewdawg kvave January 26 2014 at 3:39 PM

Bottom line? Are you willing to pay $2.00 or $3.00 more for a fast food burger? Or any fast food? Because in the end it is you that will pay it! It isnt the politicians. An American makes a product for $100.00 China makes the same product for $40.00. Which one are you going to buy? Seriously.

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3 replies
Protect Our Backs kvave January 26 2014 at 4:36 PM

To pa5m ---

They are overseas making their products because of the corruption and greed of the unions and the government. They cannot make it here cheaper! When the unions demand three times the normal wage plus overpriced benefits for similar jobs in the rest of the US they cannot sell it cheaper and make a profit. They take loss after loss after loss. They are in business to make a profit in order to stay in business!

How long do you think any of them would have had a job when it costs $100 to make it and they can't sell it in the market for more than $50. (Just an example for those who want to play the word game.) A company pays $5,000,000 to manufacture and market their products and can only get a $3,000,000 return is going to tank in short order. Just common sense economics!

Who ever started the thinking that a company is solely in business for the support and enrichment of their work force has done this country great harm! Get real, you don't pay your plumber, electrician, painter or anyone else ANYMORE THAN YOU HAVE TO out of your hard earned money and NEITHER DO COMPANIES!!!

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gerry January 26 2014 at 5:49 PM

Raise the income, then raise the price of the products you sell to cover the cost of the wage increases. So, JQ Public is pay more...probably buying less. And, it's cheaper to import stuff from China (junk, but cheaper.) So manufacturing keeps declining, ergo less jobs, more public assistance.
Then Uncle Sam will come along, and tax at a higher rate.
Then everyone is back to square one.

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1 reply
bill4319 gerry January 26 2014 at 5:51 PM

Alas, what's the USA to do about wealth inequality???? Sounds like you want folks to just give up and become surfs of the ruling wealthy class. Could there be a revolution coming???

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2 replies
danny bill4319 January 26 2014 at 6:04 PM

There will always be wealth inequality.Even in communism there are rich because of corruption.

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thescot bill4319 January 26 2014 at 6:08 PM

Just want them to get a decent educations and make something of themselves instead of stealing from the people who have taken the time and effort to make someting of themselves rather than become wefare recipients.

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kvave January 26 2014 at 3:34 PM

If you want to save $ and skewer someone .........

Do it to the Illegal Alien . Or Career "Parent" with 16 Kids , getting a check for each. NOT the Worker , Elderly or Disabled. If we did that , we would have far more than enough. Thats a Savings Of many Billions a Year.

But why not? Repubs like the Cheap Labor , and Dems like the Instant Vote

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lflz28 January 26 2014 at 5:43 PM

Here's the problem, We now pay European Prices in America. In the mid 60's I bought 3 cars in near perfect condition from a used car dealer for an average of $60. each That's right I said $60. Now for the same condition Same mileage the European & Arab Car dealers running American dealerships in This contry charge $5000.

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