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Oklahoma lawmakers seek to increase state’s minimum wage

February 21, 2019

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Democratic lawmakers in the state House and Senate have proposed legislative measures to raise Oklahoma’s minimum wage.

One bill filed by Democratic Sen. George Young earlier this month would increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.50 an hour, The Journal Record reported. Young said state lawmakers should be prioritizing livable wage options.

“When you are talking about families you may have two or three people living on $7.25 an hour, that is not enough to survive on,” he said.

Another measure , proposed by Democratic Rep. Cyndi Munson, would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for state employees. Munson said her bill would apply to public staffers who didn’t receive a pay increase last year.

Republican lawmakers have already rejected several efforts to increase the minimum wage. The Oklahoma Legislature passed a bill in 2014 preventing any city or town from establishing a minimum wage. At the time, then-Gov. Mary Fallin said authorizing a minimum-wage increase at the local level would push businesses to other communities and states.

Young said raising the minimum wage would benefit the state.

“Contrary to popular belief, the people who are being paid minimum are not just high school and college students,” he said. “They are working families. If you increase their pay they are going to turn right around and spend it.”

Several of the state’s tribal nations have raised their entry-level wage. At least five of the state’s 39 federally recognized tribes have starting pay surpassing the federal standard of $7.25 per hour. Those tribes include the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Osage and the Muscogee (Creek).

There have been 18 states that increased their minimum-wage this year, according to a study by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Three of those states border Oklahoma — Colorado, Arkansas and Missouri.

Arkansas voters approved an initiative last November to raise their state’s minimum wage.

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Information from: The Journal Record, http://www.journalrecord.com

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