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South Dakota Passes Qualified Minimum Wage Increase

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This week South Dakota enacted legislation increasing the state hourly minimum wage—contingent upon an increase in the federal minimum wage law. South Dakota's current minimum wage is fixed at $5.15 per hour—identical to the federal law—and will not increase until July 1, 2007 or until a federal raise is passed, whichever date is later. At that point, the wage will increase to $5.85, rising to $6.55 a year out and $7.25 in 2009.

The state Senate's original version of the bill (as well as that of Republican Governor Mike Rounds) was not tied to federal action, but the GOP dominated House of Representatives approved the restrictive language on a 62 to 8 vote earlier in the month.

Congress has taken up federal minimum wage legislation, which could be approved as early as sometime this spring.

South Dakota and Iowa (along with 13 other states) currently have the lowest minimum wage laws in the United States at $5.15. An additional 5 states (all in the South) have no minimum wage law. Minnesota's minimum wage is $5.25 for small businesses and $6.15 for larger businesses; in Wisconsin it is $6.50 for all employers.

Not surprisingly, South Dakota (9 percent) and Iowa (22 percent) also have a lower percentage of union households than Wisconsin (30 percent) and Minnesota (28 percent).

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Remains of the Data

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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