Colorado voters OK minimum wage hikes

by Mark Wiletsky

On November 8, Colorado voters decided to raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 per hour over the next four years. By about a 54-46 margin, voters passed Amendment 70, which changes the Colorado Constitution to gradually raise the minimum wage.

Gradual increases in minimum wage

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States approve minimum wage, paid leave ballot questions

November 10, 2016 - by: Kate McGovern Tornone 0 COMMENTS

States with employment-related ballot questions mostly approved them during the November 8 election, and employers have little lead time before many measures will be implemented.

All told, 14 states have new provisions with which companies must comply, some as early as January 1, 2017.

Minimum wage

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Arizona voters approve increased minimum wage, paid sick leave

by Dinita L. James
Gonzalez Law, LLC

On November 8, nearly 60% of Arizona voters cast ballots in favor of increasing the state’s minimum wage and providing mandatory paid sick leave. The measure ensures that employers will have to pay at least $10 per hour beginning January 1, 2017. Thereafter, the minimum wage will increase by 50 cents each year until it reaches $12 per hour in 2020.

Based on unofficial returns, Proposition 206, the Healthy Working Families Initiative, passed by healthy margins in 14 of Arizona’s 15 counties, with only Graham County in the southeast corner of the state voting against it.

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Nevada Supreme Court clarifies connection between healthcare coverage, minimum wage

by Deanna L. Forbush

Nevada is unique in so many ways. For instance, unlike other states, Nevada has a constitutional provision that authorizes a two-tiered minimum wage. It’s called the Minimum Wage Amendment (MWA). Under the MWA, if an employer provides qualifying health benefits, a minimum-wage employee may be paid $1 per hour less than the upper-tier minimum wage. But what does “provide” mean? Must the employer actually enroll an employee in a qualifying health benefit plan? Or is it sufficient if the employer only “offers” a qualifying plan? That’s a significant distinction, with major economic ramifications for Nevada employers whose payrolls include minimum-wage employees.

In a unanimous opinion issued October 27, the full Nevada Supreme Court looked at the plain language of the MWA to conclude that “provide” means “offer,” thereby partially overruling a lower court’s finding that an employee must actually “enroll” in an employer’s health benefit plan before the employer is entitled to pay the lower-tier minimum wage.

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Arizona voters will decide minimum wage, recreational marijuana proposals

by Dinita L. James
Gonzalez Law, LLC

On August 18 and 19, two Maricopa County Superior Court judges cleared the way for two voter initiatives with significant implications for Arizona employers to appear on the November ballot. One would raise the statewide minimum hourly wage to $10 on January 1, 2017, and the other would make recreational marijuana legal for people 21 and older and establish a regulatory system like Colorado’s.

Opponents of both measures challenged the petition procedure through which hundreds of thousands of Arizona citizens had endorsed putting the proposed laws to a vote. The dismissal of both lawsuits on August 19 likely means voters will get their say on whether the two provisions will become law.

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Washington, D.C., employers to face $15 minimum wage

June 09, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The “Fight for $15” movement got a boost on June 7 when the Washington, D.C., City Council approved a minimum wage increase that will have the city’s lowest-wage workers earning $15 an hour by 2020.

The council unanimously approved the measure after council committee discussions worked out differences related to raising the city’s tipped minimum wage. Another council vote is required before the measure can be enacted, but that vote is seen as a formality. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser has said she will sign the measure.

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New York, California gearing up for $15 minimum wage

April 05, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

On April 4, the governors of New York and California signed measures that will culminate in a $15 minimum wage phased in over the next few years.

Champions of the minimum wage increases say they are important to providing workers a living wage, but foes in both states predict job losses and business failures.

New York and California became the first states to pass a $15 minimum wage, but several cities around the country already have laws putting them on the road to a $15 minimum. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

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Effort to push California minimum wage to $15 reported

March 28, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Most California employers will see the state’s minimum wage reach $15 an hour by 2022 if reports of a deal in the state legislature materialize as expected.

Reports in the Los Angeles Times and The Sacramento Bee on March 27 tell of a tentative deal between state lawmakers and union leaders that would phase in the wage hike. Currently, the state’s minimum wage stands at $10 an hour. (The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.) The outlets reported that businesses with fewer than 25 employees would have an extra year to reach the $15 level.

Mark I. Schickman, an attorney with Freeland Cooper & Foreman LLP in San Francisco, said the deal is extremely likely to pass the legislature and gain Governor Jerry Brown’s support. On March 28, the governor’s office issued a statement that Brown would join “a number of other leaders” to discuss the “landmark deal” to raise the state’s minimum wage. The Times reported that lawmakers could vote on the proposal within a couple of weeks.

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Oregon employers need to prepare for minimum wage increases

by Joanna Perini-Abbott

With the Oregon Legislature’s passage of a minimum wage increase and the governor’s expected signature, employers need to be ready for a three-tiered minimum wage system.

Under the terms of Senate Bill 1532, an employer’s location will affect the wages it must pay employees. Employers in the Portland metropolitan area urban growth boundary face the greatest increases, stepping up to $14.75 by 2022. The law holds the annual cost-of-living increases in abeyance until 2023 and instead puts in place the following Portland metro area scale: read more…

Alabama Legislature puts a stop to Birmingham’s higher minimum wage

by Albert L. Vreeland

************************ UPDATE 2/26/16 ************************

As expected, on Thursday, February 25, the Alabama Legislature passed a bill preempting any local legislation (city or county) imposing a higher minimum wage or mandating a minimum level of employee benefits.  The bill was signed into law by Governor Robert Bentley shortly thereafter, rendering the Birmingham minimum wage hike a dead letter.  Now, any changes to the minimum wage for Alabama employers will have to come from Washington or Montgomery—which seems very unlikely in the current political climate.

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