Skip to contentNational Women's Law Center


Listen Up: States Continue to Pave the Way on Minimum Wage Hikes

 With public polling showing remarkably strong support for increasing the minimum wage, legislators around the country are pushing to raise the wage – and they’re making it happen. We’re only nine days into April, and already, this month is one for the history books. Here are some highlights of what’s happening in the states:

  • Just last week, West Virginia’s governor signed into law a bill that will boost wages for 120,000 West Virginians. The minimum wage is now set to rise from $7.25 to $8.75 by 2016. Women make up about two-thirds [PDF] of the state’s minimum wage workers.
  • On Monday, Maryland’s legislature sent a bill to the governor to raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour by 2018, making the Free State only the second state to set the $10.10 figure called for in the pending federal Fair Minimum Wage Act. (Connecticut beat Maryland to become the first state with a $10.10 minimum wage last month.) Gov. Martin O’Malley has announced he’ll sign the bill, and for the state’s minimum wage workers – more than six in ten of whom are women – an increase can’t come soon enough. 

A Victory for Marriage Equality in Hawai'i

Yesterday, a historic event occurred in Hawai'i. The state's governor, Neil Abercrombie, signed a law legalizing marriage between same-sex couples. The bill was recently approved by the House and Senate during a special legislative session called specifically to consider it. 

This victory was hard-earned. Advocates had championed marriage equality for the past 20 years, winning a case in 1993 [PDF] where a plurality of the Supreme Court of Hawai'i opined that prohibiting marriage between same-sex couples was a sex-based classification subject to strict scrutiny. The Supreme Court subsequently affirmed a lower court finding that, in fact, bans on marriage between same-sex couples violated the Equal Protection Clause of Hawai'i's Constitution. 

Unfortunately, voters subsequently opted to change the state Constitution to bar marriage between same-sex couples, and, in 1999, the Supreme Court of Hawai'i upheld the ban. Yesterday's ruling changes the legal landscape, and, effective December 2, state officials may perform same-sex marriages. 

This victory comes on the heels of a federal challenge to the ban. Read more »

Getting Closer to a Better Minimum Wage in Hawaii, New Mexico and New York

Momentum just keeps building towards a higher minimum wage. I reported last week that Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) introduced the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which now has at least 25 co-sponsors in the Senate and 131 in the House. That’s a strong show of support – but we know the bill will still face opposition from some in Congress. So it’s heartening to see that a number of states aren’t waiting for the federal government to act to raise wages for their lowest-paid workers.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve noted proposed minimum wage increases in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, and Rhode Island. And just in the past couple of weeks, legislatures in several of these states have taken steps to move those proposals forward. This movement is especially good news for women, who make up the majority of minimum wage workers across the country and in most states. Read more »

States Taking the Lead on Higher Minimum Wages

It’s been a busy few weeks on the minimum wage front, as policymakers in a slew of states have moved to raise wages for low-paid workers. If you follow our blog, you already know that minimum wage increases are on the agenda in Maryland and New York – and you know that this is especially good news for women, who make up the majority of minimum wage workers in those states and across the country.

While a federal minimum wage increase – like the one proposed in the Fair Minimum Wage Act last year – is needed to boost pay for minimum wage and tipped workers throughout the U.S., it’s great to see momentum building at the state level. Here’s a quick run-down of recent developments:

  • California. A bill pending in the Assembly, AB-10, would increase the minimum wage from $8.00 per hour to $8.25 in 2014, $8.75 in 2015, and $9.25 in 2016, then adjust the wage annually for inflation beginning in 2017.
  • Connecticut. A bill pending in the Senate, S.B. 387, would raise the minimum wage from $8.25 per hour to $9.00 in July 2013 and $9.75 in July 2014, with annual indexing beginning in July 2015. NWLC’s new fact sheet shows that over 246,000 Connecticut workers would get a raise by 2014 under this proposal – and about six in ten of those workers would be women.