Oregon lawmakers approve landmark legislation of state’s minimum wage bill

By Staff Writer | Feb 20, 2016 07:02 PM EST

Oregon lawmakers have already approved the landmark legislation that pushes the state's minimum wage bill for all workers to the highest rank in the U.S. Lawmakers, however, would do so through an unparalleled tiered system based on geography.

According to ABC NEWS, the state House of Representatives passed the Senate Bill 1532. It now heads to Democratic Governor Kate Brown, who had a statement indicating that she will sign it into law.

She stated, "I started this conversation last fall, bringing stakeholders together to craft a workable proposal; one that gives working families the much-needed wage boost they need." Brown added, "and addresses challenges for businesses and rural economies presented by the two impending ballot measures.".

The decision makes Oregon a backer in the broader debate about the minimum wage. It also relates nationwide as the federal threshold remains unchanged from Great Recession levels.

Yahoo! News reported that the state now joins the 14 other states in raising their rates over the past two years. Some other states are also taking up the issue just this year, either through legislative action or ballot initiative. They are taking these as issues of wage inequality and middle-class incomes that have happened due to the forefront of presidential campaigns by Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton.

States have taken different ways to raise their own minimum wages. A few opted to target government employees or certain industries, as seen recently in New York for fast-food workers. Other states allow local jurisdictions to set their own rates above the state threshold, which led to recent hikes in cities, including Seattle and Los Angeles.

Moreover, the bill was made as a concession between what unions, businesses and farmers are wanting to get and as an attempt to spoil more aggressive proposals that could go before voters in November. The two proposals also seek for a statewide minimum of $13.50 or $15. But the labor unions have not yet indicated whether they are planning to follow through with ballot initiatives.

This is a move that Oregon follows, after states such as Massachusetts, California and Vermont recently boosted their statewide minimums above $10. That is in contrast to the more conservative states such as Idaho, which has stopped the previous efforts to increase its minimum wage beyond the federal level. Also, Arizona's lawmakers are in view of the bill that would block the state funding to municipalities that have the local minimum wage.

Oregon is considered unique since it would be the first state without a one-size-fits-all statewide minimum for all workers. The state is severely separated between the west and the east by economic, cultural and political differences. The goal of the tiered approach is to create a balance of the needs of the more urban west, where the cost of living has heightened rapidly Portland and struggling farming communities in the east, as reported by CBS News.

Meanwhile, David Cooper, which is an economic analyst of the Economic Policy Institute, claimed that wage increases have never lead to widespread damaging effects. However, he also noted his hesitation about Oregon's regional approach.

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