An increase to the minimum wage has been the rallying cry of many labor groups within recent years. Especially among fast-food workers, who contend raising the minimum wage would better provide them a chance to take care of themselves and their families. Nearly two-thirds of minimum wage and tipped workers are women, with women of color comprising 23 percent of minimum wage earners compared to 16 percent of all workers. Additionally, nearly half of hourly workers between the ages of 16 and 25 years old are paid at or below federal minimum wage. Lower wages among women and the young often work to reinforce economic disparities among these groups. Members of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, recognizing this, called for an increase in the federal minimum wage in LMV-15-18, SUPPORTING A SUSTAINABLE MINIMUM WAGE, supporting the opportunity for economic growth and empowerment through fair wages. Lifting millions of Americans out of poverty will in part require giving those Americans a more viable income and state action.
In working towards economic equality, the Obama administration called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 and has remained stagnant since 2009.
There are 29 states and the District of Columbia that have a minimum wage higher than the federal wage. Despite delay at the federal level, states have been moving forward in closing the wage gaps by providing an increase in the minimum wage.
SB6 (2013) An Act to Amend Title 19 of the Delaware Code Relating to the Minimum Wage
|Sponsors: Sen. Robert Marshall Rep. Gerald L. Brady Sen. Patricia Blevins, Sen. Margaret Rose Henry,* Sen. Harris McDowell & Rep. Karen Peterson, NewLine, Rep. Michael Mulrooney, Rep. James Johnson,* Rep. Helena M. Keeley, Rep. Edward Osienski, Rep. John A. Kowalko, Rep. Debra J. Heffernan, D.E. Williams, Baumbach, Rep. Stephanie T. Bolden,*Rep. Kimberly Williams, Rep. Valerie Longhurst
 Fair Pay for Women Requires a Fair Minimum Wage, http://www.nwlc.org/resource/fair-pay-women-requires-fair-minimum-wage, National Women’s Law Center, May 13, 2015
Summary: The measure raised the minimum wage to not less than $8.00 hourly on July 1, 2013. It also created another increase to not less than $8.75 per hour on July 1, 2014. The bill also created room for another increase if the federal minimum became higher than the state minimum wage. Delaware would then raise the wage to be a $1.00 more than the new federal standard. Lastly, it would also increase the wage by a percentage to be reflective to the percentage of Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) as determined by the federal Social Security Act.
Goals: Sponsors stated that the increase, while not tremendous, was a step in the right direction in helping people become capable in paying off their bills.
Concerns: Opponents to minimum wage say that it creates pay raises across the board and leads to fewer jobs for unskilled workers.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
B20-0459 (2013) Minimum Wage Amendment Act of 2013
|Sponsors: Councilmember Vincent Orange,* Councilmember Phil Mendelson, Councilmember Jim Graham
Summary: This bill raised the District’s minimum wage in three stages. It raised it to $9.50 in 2014, raises it to $10.50 in 2015, and raises it again in $11.50 in 2016. This was the highest minimum wage among states so far in 2015. After July 2017 the minimum wage will increase each year in proportion to the annual average Consumer Price Index published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Goals: Raising the wage in increments allows business to adjust while also easing the burden on families and residents living in the District.
Concerns: Many of the growing movements to increase the minimum wage to $15.00 have been met with opposition by the business community who state it will increase their costs, as well as prevent them from hiring additional workers.
HB295/SB 331 (2014) Maryland Minimum Wage Act of 2014
|Sponsors: Del. Curt Anderson,* Del. Talmadge Branch,* Del. Emmett C. Burns,* Del. Jill Carter,* Del. Cheryl Glenn,* Del. Adrienne Jones,* Del. Keiffer Mitchell,* Del. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam,* Del. James Proctor,* Del. Barbara Robinson,* Del. Melvin Stukes,* Del. Darren Swain,* Del. Frank Turner,* Del. Michael Vaughn,* Del. Jay Walker,* Del Alonzo Washington,* Del. Mary Washington,* Del. Keith Haynes,* Del. Alred Carr; Sen. Joanne Benson, Sen. Joan Carter Conway,* Sen. Ulysses Currie,* Sen. Lisa Gladden,* Sen. Anthony Muse,* Sen. Catherine Pugh* (non-NBCSL legislators not featured)
Summary: This bill raises the minimum wage to $8.00 of January 1, 2015. It also increases the state minimum wage to $8.25 or the higher federal minimum wage as of July 1, 2015. It creates another increase of $8.75 or the greater federal minimum wage as of July 1, 2016. Another increase to $9.25 or the higher federal standard in July 1, 2017 and finally raises it to $10.10 or the higher federal limit as of July 1, 2018. The bill leaves an exception for employers of employees younger than 20 years old which allows them to pay a wage that equals 85% of the state’s minimum wage for the first six months. There also is an exception for employers of amusement or recreational establishments, which meet specified conditions, which allow them to pay a wage equal to $7.25 or 85% of the minimum wage whichever is greater.
Goals: For those in minimum wage jobs such as food service and retail, an increase in income will enable them to do more with their paychecks.
Concerns: Employers and conservative organizations argue that increasing the minimum wage will have the opposite effect of helping employees and instead will cost thousands of jobs.
H-5074 (2015) An Act Relating to Labor And Labor Relations – Minimum Wage
|Sponsors: Rep. David Bennett, Rep. Joseph McNamara, Rep. Charlene Lima, Rep. Raymond Hull,* and Rep. James McLaughlin
Summary: This bill raises the minimum wage from $9.00 to $9.60 as of January 1, 2016.
Goals: Increasing the wage will help put citizens of Rhode Island in a better financial situation. As state by Governor Gina Raimondo, ” it’s very challeging working full-time at $9.50, it’s a huge challenge but it’s a start. It’s a step in teh right direction.”
Concerns: Members of the business community voiced opposition against raising the minimum wage too high. An increase in wages creates a higher cost of doing business for employers, is what many business associations argue.
All Americans want the opportunity to succeed and thrive. They also want to be paid for the work that they do whether it is driving a bus, serving food, or taking out the trash. Providing workers a fair a livable wage should be the goal of all policymakers. When individuals are able to bring home more money it impacts all aspects of their lives and their family’s lives. While the effort continues on, states will remain engaged in giving their residents access to improved lives through increased wages.