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Michigan poised to raise minimum wage by 25 per cent to $9.25 an hour over 4 years

LANSING, Mich. - Michigan is poised to raise its minimum wage by 25 per cent over the next four years to $9.25 an hour, as Republicans controlling state government moved to head off a November ballot measure that could have raised pay even more.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder said Tuesday he will quickly sign legislation raising the state's minimum wage to $9.25 an hour by 2018 after the state House and Senate approved the increase.

The current hourly minimum wage is $7.40.

The Republican-led Legislature acted one day before a group of labour and community organizers planned to present thousands of petitions signatures calling for a Michigan ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage even more — to $10.10 an hour.

The higher rate is supported by President Barack Obama and national Democrats, who have made the minimum wage a signature issue this election year. Snyder is up for re-election this year, as are many Michigan state legislators.

Michigan is the first state with a Republican-led legislature to raise its minimum wage this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota and West Virginia have raised their minimum wages, as well as the District of Columbia. Vermont's legislature has passed an increase but it has yet to be signed by the governor.

The Michigan House voted 76-34 and the Senate 24-12.

The bill going to Snyder includes a provision requiring the minimum wage to grow with inflation once it hits $9.25 an hour. It also would raise the wage for workers who get tips to 38 per cent of the minimum wage. Once Snyder signs the measure into law it will pre-empt the ballot initiative.

"We know this is the only Republican conservative Legislature to consider an increase in the minimum wage, and that's a direct result of our work on the campaign," said Danielle Atkinson, a representative for Raise Michigan, which is leading the ballot drive. The group said its attempt to take the measure directly to voters had led to the legislative action.

The Michigan Restaurant Association, National Federation of Independent Business and other business groups have said a wage rise would cut into businesses' profits, which could cause closures and layoffs.

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Associated Press correspondent David Eggert contributed to this report.

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Online:

Legislation: http://1.usa.gov/1kI45nx

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Follow Emma Fidel on Twitter at http://twitter.com/emmafidel

The Canadian Press


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