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Affordable Care Act Opponent Governor Rick Scott Supports Expansion of Health Coverage through Medicaid

Yesterday Florida Governor Rick Scott—an outspoken opponent of the Affordable Care Act—announced his support for the law’s expansion of health coverage through the Medicaid program, joining the growing ranks of conservative governors who have concluded that it’s just too good a deal to turn down.

The Supreme Court decision that upheld the health care law also allowed states to choose whether to accept the federal money to expand coverage through Medicaid. But if a state chooses to turn down the federal money, some of that state’s poorest and most vulnerable residents will fall into a “coverage gap”. In other words, they will not get any help toward affording health insurance, while people with higher incomes will still get help through the law. Read more »

Update: Good and Not So Good News on Proposed State Minimum Wage Cuts

Well, it looks like we can breathe a sigh of relief when it comes to Florida’s recent attempt to slash wages for tipped workers. The Florida bill I blogged about earlier this week that would have cut the state’s tipped minimum wage by more than half has died in the state Senate. This is one death I’m happy to celebrate.

Unfortunately, the update from Arizona is not good. Yesterday, the Arizona House passed HCR 2056. The legislature has changed the ballot initiative since it was first introduced, but it has just changed how it would propose to cut the minimum wage. The initiative has been amended to remove the provisions cutting the minimum wage for tipped workers and young workers specifically, but language has been added that would end the current law policy of indexing of the minimum wage for inflation. This means that the state minimum wage, which is now slightly higher than the federal minimum ($7.65 an hour rather than $7.25), will only go up when Congress raises the federal minimum – and that’s not often. In fact, if the federal minimum wage were keeping pace with inflation, it would be more than $10 per hour, rather than the current level of $7.25.  Read more »

State Legislators Propose Cuts to Minimum Wage for Tipped Workers, Younger Workers

Recently we’ve been happy to report on some good news about the minimum wage, including the Department of Labor’s proposed regulations to extend federal minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers (there is still time to submit comments to show your support for these workers), and the Delaware Senate’s passage of legislation to raise the minimum wage in the state to $8.25.

Today, unfortunately, I bring you grim news about two states that are proposing to cut the minimum wage for tipped workers and younger workers. Legislators in Florida and Arizona have proposed new measures that would make their already low tipped minimum cash wages even lower.

In Florida, Senate Bill 2106 would cut the state tipped minimum cash wage from $4.65 to the federal minimum of just $2.13 (which, in addition to being bad policy, may also violate the state constitution). In Arizona, the House Committee on Commerce has approved a ballot initiative, HCR 2056, which would lower the state’s tipped minimum cash wage from $4.65 to $2.53.

The Arizona proposal would also slash the minimum wage for workers under the age of 20 in part time or temporary jobs by up to $3.00, from $7.65 to $4.65. Read more »

NWLC’s Weekly Roundup: January 2-6

It’s the first Friday of a new year – which means the first blog roundup of 2012 is here! There’s some good news and bad news to start the year off– but isn’t that how it always seems to be – including stories on the FBI’s definition of rape, advances for nursing mothers, the attack on a clinic in Florida, a fresh new model gracing the pages of Target and Nordstrom ads, and more on the recent Plan B decision. Read more »

2012 Brings a Minimum Wage Increase for Workers in 8 States—Especially Women

Here’s a little bit of good news for the new year: more than one million low-wage workers got a raise on January 1, when the minimum wage increased in the eight states that index their minimum wage for inflation. In each of these states (Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington), women make up a majority of the workers who will see their paychecks increase this month.  An adjustment for inflation also increased the minimum wage in San Francisco to $10.24 per hour, making it the first large city in the country to require hourly pay above $10.

However, these jurisdictions represent the exception rather than the rule. While another 10 states, the District of Columbia, and some other localities have minimum wages that are set higher than the federal minimum wage, most of their minimum wage rates are fixed and don’t keep pace with inflation. The minimum wage is still below $9.00 an hour in every state but Washington (where it just rose to $9.04/hour). Worst of all, in more than half the states, the minimum wage remains at the federal level, which is just $7.25 an hour.

As the New York Times editorial page highlighted, it’s past time for the federal government to set a higher standard for the states. A woman working full time, year round at the current federal minimum wage will earn just $14,500 annually – that’s more than $3,000 below the federal poverty line for a mother with two children. The value of the federal minimum wage has declined over time; if it had kept pace with inflation since 1968 (when the wage was at its highest mark), it would now be $10.39 per hour. The federal minimum wage for tipped workers is lower still; since 1991, it has been set at just $2.13 an hour, providing an annual base wage of only $4,260 for tipped employees working full time, year round. Read more »