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Minimum wage bills pushed by Democrats in at least 30 states, including Utah

By Michael Hill

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Jan. 26 2014 12:00 a.m. MST

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."

Some minimum wage legislation and initiatives in states around the nation:

—Alabama: Proposed constitutional amendment would raise minimum wage by steps to $9.80 on Jan. 1, 2016. Voters would also have to approve the measure.

—Alaska: Supporters of an effort to raise the minimum wage turned in signatures with hopes of getting the issue on the August ballot.

—Arkansas: Supporters hope to gather enough signatures for a ballot proposal in November that would raise the minimum wage by steps to $8.50 per hour by 2017.

—Delaware: A bill would raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25, in two 50-cent increments.

—Florida: Bills would raise the rate to $10.10.

—Georgia: Two bills sponsored by House Democrats would raise the minimum wage.

—Hawaii: Lawmakers have filed paperwork on bill to raise the minimum wage.

—Idaho: An effort is underway to get a minimum wage hike on next November's ballot. The initiative would hike the lowest legal pay in Idaho to $9.80 an hour by 2017.

—Illinois: Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn wants to raise the rate from $8.25 to $10.

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

—Iowa: Bill would hike the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour up to $10.10.

—Kentucky: Bill would raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour over three years.

—Louisiana: Louisiana's legislative session begins in March, and a Democratic lawmaker has said he intends to introduce wage legislation.

—Maryland: Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley is backing an increase of $10.10 an hour by 2016.

—Massachusetts: The state Senate approved an increase in the minimum wage from $8 to $11 over three years. The House hasn't taken up the measure. The issue could also land on the ballot this year.

—Michigan: Bills introduced in 2013 would raise the minimum wage from $7.40 to $10 an hour over three years. Michigan has two-year legislative sessions.

—Minnesota: Democratic backers have been holding hearings around the state and hope to win passage of a wage bill within weeks of the Legislature's session opening in late February.

—Missouri: Four bills seek to raise the minimum wage, either to $8.25, $9, $10 or $10.25. Advocacy groups also have filed four versions of a proposed ballot initiative seeking to raise the minimum wage.

—Nebraska: A group of lawmakers is pushing for a minimum-wage increase to $9 per hour, phased in over three years.

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