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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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By edging Michigan in the final seconds Sunday, the University of Kentucky guaranteed that one school in the Final Four this year would be located in a state that was not carried by President Barack Obama in 2012. (Connecticut, Florida, and Wisconsin had previously earned Final Four slots over the weekend). Across the 76 Final Fours since 1939, an average of 3.1 schools have been located in states won by the president's ticket during the previous election cycle. All four schools have come from states won by the president 29 times, with the most recent being the 2009 Final Four featuring Connecticut, Michigan State, North Carolina, and Villanova. On 30 occasions three Final Four schools have been located in states won by the president, with two schools 11 times and only one school six times (the most recent being 2012 with Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, and Ohio State). There has never been a Men's NCAA Division I Final Four in which no schools were located in states carried by the president's ticket.


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A new Rasmussen Poll shows Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in a dead heat with likely 2014 Democratic nominee Mary Burke. Walker is seeking to win his third consecutive election after prevailing in 2012's recall contest. Eight of his predecessors accomplished this feat: Republicans Lucius Fairchild (in 1869), Jeremiah Rusk (1886), Robert La Follette (1904), Emanuel Philipp (1918), John Blaine (1924), Walter Kohler (1954), Warren Knowles (1968), and Tommy Thompson (1994). Three others Badger State governors lost on their third campaign: Democrat George Peck (1894), Progressive Philip La Follette (1938), and Republican Julius Heil (1942). One died in office before having the opportunity to win a third contest (GOPer Walter Goodland in 1947) while another resigned beforehand (Democrat Patrick Lucey in 1977 to become Ambassador to Mexico). Overall Wisconsin gubernatorial incumbents have won 35 of 47 general election contests, or 74.5 percent of the time.


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