The Minnesota House on Friday will put its stamp on a minimum wage hike that would give up to 400,000 workers raises.
The measure would lift the state minimum to $9.50 an hour by 2015 for most workers. Currently, about 93,000 workers earn the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour or less.
"It is important that Minnesota finally take a step forward on the minimum wage. We are one of six states that have a minimum wage that is less than the federal minimum wage," said Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley.
The state minimum wage, last raised in 2005, is
$6.25 $6.15 so the higher federal wage applies to most businesses.
Many business groups say the 50 percent increase in the state wage floor would cripple employers' flexibility and could cause businesses to scale back the number of jobs they provide.
"Simply put, this bill puts Minnesota retailers at a marketplace disadvantage, especially in non-metro areas and border communities," the Minnesota Retailers Association said in a plea to members to call lawmakers.
Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, said if Minnesota hikes the minimum wage to $9.50 the state will stick out like a sore thumb.
"Minnesota wage has to be determined at the federal level. You cannot have one state that is higher than the surrounding states," said Davids, whose southern Minnesota home is about 14 miles from the Iowa border. Iowa's minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.
The minimum wage measure would also set the work week at 40 hours for many more employees.
Right now, between 80,000 and 115,000 Minnesota employees get overtime only after working 48 hours, because their employers are exempt from the federal law that mandates overtime after 40 hours.
Agricultural workers are among those now exempt, and changing that, as the measure would do, has raised some hackles.
But that may all be worked out on the House floor on Friday.
DFL Rep. Jeanne Poppe has filed an amendment to continue the exemption for agricultural workers and Winkler said although he personally opposes the exemption, he will not ask DFL members to oppose it.
Correction: An earlier verson of this post wrongly stated the current state law on the minimum wage level.