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State House passes bill for sharp increase to minimum wage

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The Minnesota House Friday voted 68-62 in favor of raising the state's minimum wage from $6.15 to $9.50 by 2015, The Associated Press reports.

The bill proposes the raise happens in three steps. The first step would raise it from $6.15 to $8, and then from $8 to $9.50 by 2015. That minimum would then be raised every year thereafter to adjust for inflation.

The House passage comes a few days after the House Ways and Means Committee approved the bill, even thought the $9.50 rate was lower than the amount DFLers were originally pushing for.

Gov. Mark Dayton said in March that he'd be comfortable with an increase in the $9 to $9.50 range.

If the House version holds, it was give Minnesota the highest minimum wage in the nation. Washington state currently pays the highest minimum wage at $9.19 per hour.

Minnesota is only one of four states in the country with a minimum wage lower than the federal level of $7.25 an hour.

The Senate's companion bill is expected to go to vote Wednesday. The bill calls for smaller increases until the state's minimum wage reaches $7.75 per hour, but agrees with the idea of increasing it with inflation.

Detractors of the bill believe the increase will hurt small businesses and force cutbacks in staffing, reports the Star Tribune.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said he thinks $9.50 per hour is "too much" and that he was concerned about overreaching on this."

Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, was more critical, saying, "This is really another unemployment bill by the Democrats."

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