Efforts to raise Minnesota's minimum wage have generated a lot of heat at the Capitol but who earns the minimum?
Here's a chart of who earns minimum wage or less in Minnesota, by industry:
Here's a chart of who earns minimum wage or less in Minnesota, by age:
Note: The Minnesota minimum wage is $6.15 an hour for large businesses. Since 2009, the federal minimum wage has been set at $7.25 an hour. That means that most Minnesota employers have to pay the federal minimum to their workers.
Over the weekend, local Minneapolis Republicans endorsed Abdimalik Mohamed Askar in his run for state House in Minneapolis.
His name might be familiar: he ran for president of Somalia a few years ago. Republican Party chair Keith Downey said he is the first Somali-American the party has backed.
"We are so pleased that Abdimalik Askar has stepped forward to run. It breaks new ground for Republicans to have endorsed someone from the Somali community, but more importantly he would represent his district so well," Downey said.
Askar is running in a heavily Democratic district. In 2012, longtime DFL Rep. Phyllis Kahn won re-election with 77 percent of the vote and Democratic President Obama won 75 percent of district's votes. This year, Kahn faces an endorsement challenge from Minneapolis School Board member Mahamud Noor.
"The reason why I'm running is very simple: I would like to improve...our district," Askar said in a video on his campaign web site. He said he would focus on education, including charter schools and school choice, crime reduction, creating opportunity for young people and advocating for small businesses.
He also said he shares anti-abortion values with Republicans and that he believes marriage should be only between a man and a woman. In 2012, a vast majority of the district rejected a ban on same-sex marriage. Last year, Minnesota legalized same sex marriage.
Minnesotans should be able to use a website to register to vote, a bipartisan panel of lawmakers voted on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, the House Elections committee on a bipartisan vote approved the online practice that has been available — with considerable controversy — since last year.
“I think its an issue that is kind of a no brainer for the state of Minnesota,” said House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis.
DFL Secretary of State Mark Ritchie’s office began accepting online registrations last year without specific legislative instruction to do so. Democrats, Republicans and the nonpartisan Legislative Auditor said last year that the matter likely should have been approved by the Legislature first. Ritchie claims existing law gave him the authority to start registering voters online.
Despite a still unsettled lawsuit to stop the web-based registrations, more than 3,300 Minnesotans have registered to vote online. A judge is expected to decide the case by April.
By then, the Minnesota Legislature may have already put a practical end to the question of Ritchie's authority to create the online system. The legislative action would add the force of law to online voter registration.
A Senate panel is expected to take up a measure to approve online voter registration next week. The House may deal with the issue more expediently.
“To the extent that we can move it quickly, we’re better off,” Thissen said. With Tuesday's vote in committee, the House bill is ready for a full floor vote.
More than two dozen states offer voters online registration, although some states allow more limited web-based registration than others, according to the National Council of State Legislatures.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken has single digit leads over some of his Republican opponents, a new KSTP/Survey USA poll found.
Franken, who won his first election by just a few hundred votes, had 8 percentage point leads over two of his challengers and a larger leads over four others.
The same poll found that Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton with larger leads over his Republican opponents. According to the poll, Dayton had between 17 and 21 percentage point leads over the candidates seeking to oust him.
Methodology from the pollster:
"SurveyUSA interviewed 600 state of MN adults 02/25/14 through 02/27/14. Of the adults, 545 were registered to vote, and were asked about the election pairings. This research was conducted using blended sample, mixed mode. Respondents reachable on a home telephone (69% of registered voters) were interviewed on their home telephone in the recorded voice of a professional announcer. Respondents not reachable on a home telephone (31% of registered voters) were shown a questionnaire on their smartphone, tablet or other electronic device."
A separate Washington Post/ABC poll found that in states with U.S. Senate races this year, Republicans have an edge over Democrats.
Photo: A new generation voting machine being demonstrated
Minnesota Democratic lawmakers neared a breakthrough in a year-long deadlock on raising the state's minimum wage from one of the nation's lowest to one of its highest on Monday night.
If they can work through other details, the state’s minimum wage would leap from $6.15 an hour to $9.50 an hour.
While the House and Senate still have a distance to go before the new wage becomes law, the move toward a $9.50 an hour wage floor marks a significant victory for advocates who have been campaigning for months to get the all DFL-controlled Legislature to back a major leap for the state’s wage floor.
On Monday evening, Senate negotiators on the minimum wage increase said they now support finding a compromise to raise the minimum to $9.50. Last year, the Senate backed only a more modest increase, while the House -- and Gov. Mark Dayton -- supported the higher level.
"This is the crux of the bill," said Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm. Tomassoni is a veteran lawmaker and a Senate negotiator on the minimum wage measure.
The deal is far from done.
On Monday night, House negotiators rejected the Senate's proposed hike because it included only the wage for big businesses and not other key parts of the measure.
"I just don't think we can take it piece by piece," said Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley. He told his fellow lawmakers: "usually every concession has a price."
Among the outstanding issues: whether the minimum wage should automatically go up with inflation, if employers should be allowed to pay young workers less than the minimum and over how many years the new wage should be phased in.
Senators, who have spent months enduring pressing from traditional DFL allies to back a large wage hike, said their move to support a $9.50 an hour wage for most employers took significant work.
"I don't understand why your can't support your own language," Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center, told Winkler.
Leaving the committee after talks broke down, she said she was "shocked" that the House refused to go along with the Senate's move toward $9.50.
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