| MINNEAPOLIS, April 10
MINNEAPOLIS, April 10 Minnesota lawmakers on
Thursday approved a measure raising the state's minimum wage
from one of the lowest in the nation to one of the highest.
The measure to bump the hourly wage to $9.50, one of dozens
of wage proposals debated by lawmakers around the country this
year, passed the Democrat-controlled House by a vote of 71-60.
The Democrat-run Senate approved the measure on Wednesday.
It now goes to Democratic Governor Mark Dayton, who supports
The bill raises the Minnesota's minimum wage for larger
employers over three years starting in August and links
increases to an inflation indicator starting in 2018.
The bill drew praise from President Barack Obama, who has
urged Congress to raise the federal minimum wage.
"With this important step, Minnesota joins a growing
coalition of states, cities, counties and businesses that have
taken action to do the right thing for their workers and their
citizens," Obama said in a statement.
Proposals to raise the minimum wage have been considered in
nearly three dozen states in 2014, according to the National
Conference of State Legislatures. Increases have been approved
in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and West Virginia.
"This is about providing spending power to people who need
it," said Representative Jason Metsa, a Democrat from northern
The bill drew sharp criticism from Republican lawmakers who
questioned its impact on smaller businesses, entry-level jobs
and neighboring states.
"You are going to drive jobs out of the state of Minnesota,"
said Representative Kurt Daudt, the Republican minority leader
in the state House.
Minnesota's current minimum wage, $6.15 per hour, is among
the lowest in the nation, far below the federal minimum wage of
$7.25, which is also the minimum in its neighboring states
Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota.
Democrats said the legislation would raise the wages of
about 350,000 state residents and most would return the money to
the state economy by spending it on groceries and other needs.
(Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Barbara
Goldberg and Gunna Dickson)