The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

March 27, 2014

Auto-hikes to wage could go on ballot

Sen. Tom Bakk says other states have put issue to vote

(Continued)

Bakk said he discussed the plan earlier Thursday with the president of the AFL-CIO, which has made the minimum wage bill its main priority this year. A spokesman for Shar Knutson said the idea was quickly discussed with a "Raise the Wage" coalition that had sprung up to push for a higher minimum. A statement from co-chairwoman Peggy Flanagan of the Children's Defense Fund of Minnesota expressed opposition to putting it before voters.

"By passing a minimum wage bill that catches up to at least $9.50 and keeps up by indexing future increases to inflation, lawmakers can keep politics out of the minimum wage once and for all," Flanagan said. "A ballot campaign would do the exact opposite."

Republican Sen. Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls, said he also would oppose adding a wage measure into the constitution. He and other legislative Republicans have generally opposed the automatic increase feature, saying it would put a hardship on small businesses.

"I don't think it needs to go on the ballot," Dahms said. "It's something that should be taken care of" by lawmakers.

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