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Effort begins to raise minimum wage

Published: Tuesday, June 11 2013 12:14 a.m. MDT

Kirpal Singh of Denver, right, waves a placard along with more than 100 other supporters of raising the minimum wage.

David Zalubowski, Associated Press

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COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — A group of religious, education and community activists is pushing for a ballot initiative that would raise Idaho's minimum wage from the federal minimum of $7.25 to $9.80 an hour over the next four years.

The Spokesman-Review reports that about 30 members of the group rallied Saturday morning in Coeur d'Alene's Riverstone Park.

The group, led by Anne Nesse, contends that Idaho's meager compensation compared to other states is a moral issue that needs to be handled by voters rather than the Legislature. Idaho is one of 21 states that enforce only the minimum hourly wage mandated by the federal government; neighboring Washington state has the highest minimum wage in the nation at $9.19 an hour.

Nesse, who unsuccessfully ran for the state Legislature last fall, acknowledged the group has a steep climb ahead. Efforts to increase the minimum wage haven't gained traction in the state Legislature. Most recently, a proposal from Rep. Phylis King, D-Boise, failed to pass the House Commerce and Human Resources committee during the 2013 session.

Still, she said the group's proposal is modest, and that if approved by voters the state's minimum wage would be $8.10 in 2015, less than the federal bump to $9 an hour proposed by President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address this year.

The effort is getting assistance from Liz Moore with the Peace and Justice Action League in Spokane.

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