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Full House Next Stop for State Minimum Wage Bill

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March 2, 2007

The Governor's minimum wage bill is scheduled for debate in the full House today with a new provision that prevents enactment until Congress moves to approve similar legislation at the federal level. The state legislation would apply to the many employers exempt from the federal standard.

State Senator Gil Koetzle, of Sioux Falls, is disappointed the legislation might be delayed, but is still pleased the minimum wage will likely be raised. He says a House committee got behind the legislation after federal assurances that small businesses would get some help.

"The package before the federal government this year has incentives in it for small businesses, which will give them tax breaks and will indeed help them. So, the resistance is far less this year. They made the argument, as soon as the amendment was put on that said they'd do it at the federal level, then all of a sudden they were switching and they were supporting the bill because they realize the tax incentives that are in there would be beneficial to them."

Koetzle says a University of South Dakota study showing that jobs could be lost if the minimum wage is increased runs contrary to new federal statistics.

"The Department of Labor can statistically show us that, when you raise the minimum wage, unemployment goes down. Yes, there probably would be 350 people across the state that would lose their jobs. But, they would be reemployed elsewhere, re-entering the workforce. These are the lowest paid workers in the state. They haven't had a raise since 1997 and they were do."

If approved by the House and Senate, the state's minimum wage would increase no sooner than July 1 of this year.



David Law/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - SD