Lawmakers strike deal to hike minimum wage to $9.50

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A long debate over Minnesota's minimum wage may be near an end – state lawmakers were reportedly preparing Monday morning to announce a deal that would hike the standard to $9.50/hour, with future raises tied to the inflation rate, the Star Tribune reports.

Leaders in the DFL-controlled House and Senate had been at odds over a minimum wage hike, but a deal has been negotiated, the newspaper reports. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, had previously said there was not enough support in the Senate to pass a minimum wage hike that contains an inflation index.

Unions and other DFL allies have pressured lawmakers to unite behind a minimum wage hike, and in recent weeks have held rallies, delivered postcards and lobbied senators in particular, the Star Tribune notes.

Minnesota’s minimum wage is $6.15 per hour, one of the nation’s lowest, although most larger businesses must pay the federal standard of $7.25. An increase to $9.50 would make Minnesota one of the highest minimum-wage states.

A number of business leaders have opposed raising the minimum wage, saying that it would force them to lay off workers and raise prices.

Minnesota restaurant, resort and hotel owners descended on the state Capitol last month to lobby against the hike to $9.50.

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has said he supports raising the minimum wage to $9.50 and indexing it to inflation. It's been estimated that nearly 400,000 Minnesotans would get a raise if the standard were increased.

President Barack Obama is among the national leaders calling for a raise in the federal minimum wage rate. Legislatures in more than half of U.S. states are considering minimum wage increases this year, the Associated Press reported.

In Minnesota, some business owners have taken to establishing their own minimum wage in line with what Obama seeks. The Business Journal reports that pet supply retailer Chuck & Don's is the latest, announcing last month that all of its workers will be paid at least $10.10 an hour.

That follows the accolades that President Obama tossed at St. Paul-based Punch Pizza during his State of the Union message for making a similar move.

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