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DFL Senate leaders say they support minimum wage indexing but their caucus doesn't

  • Blog Post by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger
  • March 12, 2014 - 6:02 PM

For more than a week, Democrats in the Minnesota Legislature have been at a stalemate over how to raise the state’s minimum wage.

“It would be a dirty shame if we left the session without it,” House Majority Leader Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, said Wednesday.

Both the House and Senate this year are backing a hike to $9.50 by 2016 but they are stymied on whether future increases should automatically rise with inflation.

The House, so far, has insisted that the new law should include some kind of automatic bump; the Senate has said such a measure would not pass the Senate.

“We are more than 10 votes short and I don’t see any circumstances under which the Senate could pass indexing,” Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook.

But, he said, he is not one of the votes against indexing.

Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis, said the Senate this week counted votes again on the issue. And again there were between 10 and 11 DFL members who would not vote a minimum wage hike with an automatic inflator.

He is not among them.

"I still support $9.50 and indexing," said Hayden. He said he has heard from his constituents, who include many activists and minimum wage workers, repeatedly over the issue.

"I've got really passionate advocates," he said. "They really want this."

But his desire, and theirs, has not yet been enough to move the Senate position. Last year, the Senate only backed a modest increase. Hayden said he thought when they found enough votes to approve a $9.50 increase, "we'd be at a bill signing ceremony by now."

"We were a little shocked that the House wasn't willing to meet us half way," Hayden said. "I still think that there's time."

The liberal blog Bluestem Prairie is tracking senators' positions on the minimum wage bill. See that "whip count" here.

© 2014 Star Tribune