While Washington reporters concentrate on President Barack Obama’s words about income inequality and his recommendations concerning minimum wage laws, state legislators are taking the matter into their own hands. Five states passed increases last year, and coupled with those adjusting for inflation, 13 states raised their minimum wages on Jan. 1. But what began as a trickle is now an avalanche, with more than half of states debating increases and more pledging to introduce bills soon. Here’s a summary of states in progress:
- West Virginia: Introduced into the state House on Friday, a bill would increase the wage $1 to $8.25 in 2015.
- Washington: Lawmakers on Thursday proposed a $12 wage, while Seattle and its suburbs debate $15.
- Arkansas: Supporters of a 2014 ballot initiative are gathering signatures for a three-year increase to $8.50.
- South Dakota: A ballot measure would raise the wage to $8.50 beginning in January 2015.
- Idaho: Supporters of a 2014 ballot initiative are gathering signatures for a $9.80 wage by 2017.
- Alaska: A ballot initiative, awaiting approval, would raise the wage to $9.75 by January 2016.
- New Mexico: A constitutional amendment could come before voters this year and would tie the wage to inflation.
- Alabama: Voters could consider a constitutional amendment this year that would raise the wage to $9.80 in 2016.
- Nebraska: A group of lawmakers is pushing for an increase to $9 per hour, phased in over three years.
- Massachusetts: A bill passed the Senate in November to boost the wage to $11 in 2016.
- Delaware: A bill would raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25, in two 50-cent increments.
- Iowa: A bill in the split state would mirror the national bill, pushing a $10.10 wage.
- Kentucky: Similar to Iowa, the split state government is taking up a $10.10 bill.
- Rhode Island: A bill introduced Jan. 9 would push the state’s new $8 wage to $9 next year.
- Wyoming: A bill would raise the minimum wage to $9.
- Hawaii: A slow conference committee killed a measure last year, but a new bill proposes a $10.25 wage.
The debate continues in other states:
- New York: The minimum wage will already increase to $9 by 2015, but some lawmakers are looking to speed that up.
- Michigan: Bills proposed by Democrats in 2013 have been stuck, but bills and potential ballot proposals point to a $9 or $10 goal.
- Missouri: Uncertainty reigns, with four bills and four versions of a proposed ballot measure.
- Pennsylvania: At least six bills would increase the current $7.25 wage.
- Virginia: Lawmakers are considering two bills, which would raise the wage to either $8.25 or $8.50.
- Vermont: Legislative chambers disagree about both the wage and what year it should be implemented.
- California: Passed last year, the statewide wage hits $9 in July and $10 in 2016. In local changes, San Francisco’s minimum wage increased from $10.24 to $10.55 per hour. San Jose’s rose 25 percent last March and a bit more on Jan. 1, to $10.15. Los Angeles is debating $15 for certain industries.
In these states, the debate is pretty much over: