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Minimum-wage hike expands to two more states in Midwest after November 2014 elections

by Tim Anderson ~ November 2014 ~ Stateline Midwest »
Due to a mix of legislative actions and ballot initiatives this year, the minimum wage for workers has recently increased in two Midwestern states and will rise in two others starting in 2015. Proposed wage hikes appeared on ballots in Nebraska and South Dakota in November and won by comfortable margins.
In Nebraska, the minimum wage will be $8 per hour in 2015 and $9 in 2016. South Dakota’s will be $8.50 next year; the successful ballot proposal also included a provision that requires wages to be adjusted annually to account for inflation.
Illinois voters this year approved a referendum question to raise the minimum wage to $10 per hour, but for any increase to take effect, state lawmakers still have to pass legislation. Illinois’ current minimum wage is $8.25 per hour. The federal requirement is $7.25.
In all, six Midwestern states — Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio and South Dakota — have laws mandating higher minimum wages than the federal requirement.
The Michigan and Minnesota legislatures approved the increases earlier this year. Both of those new laws include automatic, inflation-adjusted pay increases in future years for the states’ lowest-paid workers. Ohio’s minimum-wage law, the result of a 2006 ballot measure, also includes annual cost-of-living adjustments.
Here are other results from the November elections.
• In Illinois, voters approved two constitutional amendments: one to better protect voting rights and another to strengthen the rights of crime victims in the state’s criminal justice system.
• A new provision in the Wisconsin Constitution will bar gas tax revenues and vehicle registration fees from being used for non-transportation purposes.
• A closely watched proposed constitutional amendment in North Dakota was defeated. The so-called “personhood amendment” sought to recognize the “unalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development.”