Alaskans to vote on minimum wage

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February 19, 2014

By Brittany Clingen

Alaska
Alaska has hopped on the hot-button issue band wagon, certifying a minimum wage increase measure for the August 19 primary ballot.[1]

Dozens of other states are attempting to pass similar laws, either via the legislature or the people, but, as of yet, South Dakota is the only other state that has successfully secured a minimum wage initiative on its 2014 ballot.

If Alaskans approve the measure in August, it would increase the state's minimum wage from $7.75 to $8.75 per hour beginning January 1, 2015. It would be further increased on January 1, 2016, to $9.75 per hour and from there on be adjusted based on inflation or remain $1 higher than the federal minimum wage, whichever amount is greater. If the measure is approved, Alaska will have the highest minimum wage, based on current rates, of any state come 2016 when the wage is raised to $9.75 per hour. Supporters of the measure submitted 43,500 signatures, significantly more than the 30,169 required to land it on the ballot.[2][1]

The issue of raising the minimum wage has spread with lightning speed across the country following two high-profile ballot measure campaigns in 2013 - one in New Jersey and another in SeaTac, Washington. Though a majority of the SeaTac initiative has since been overturned in the courts, New Jersey successfully raised its minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 an hour. When President Obama touted raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour during his State of the Union speech, he simply added fuel to an already blazing fire.[3]

Alaska's minimum wage measure joins two other measures on the primary 2014 ballot: a referendum on a bill that granted tax breaks to oil companies and an initiative seeking to legalize recreational marijuana.

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