Senator Edward Kennedy and former Senator John Edwards are trying to build support for 6 state ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage.
Six states have minimum-wage initiatives on the ballot this year: Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, and Ohio .
Arizona voters will decide whether the state should adopt a $6.75 minimum wage. If approved, the minimum wage would be adjusted for inflation annually.
Colorado voters will decide whether to amend the state constitution to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $6.85 per hour. The amendment would also require that the minimum wage be adjusted annually for inflation.
Missouri voters will decide whether to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $6.50 per hour and whether to adjust the minimum wage annually for changes in the cost of living.
Montana voters will decide whether to raise the minimum from $5.15 per hour to $6.15 per hour and subject the minimum wage to an annual cost-of-living adjustment. The minimum wage rate for employees of a business whose annual gross sales are $110,000 or less would stay at $4 an hour.
Nevada voters will decide whether to establish a higher minimum wage for employers who don't provide health benefits to employees. For employers that provide employees with health benefits, the minimum wage would be $5.15 per hour. The minimum wage would be $6.15 per hour worked if the employer does not provide health benefits. The ballot initiative would also require the minimum wage to be adjusted annually for increases in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), with no CPI adjustment for any one-year period greater than 3 percent.
Ohio voters will decide whether to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.85. The minimum wage for employees under the age of sixteen and employees of businesses with annual gross receipts of $250,000 or less would be the same as the federal minimum wage rate, which currently sits at $5.15 per hour. The ballot initiative would also require the state to adjust the minimum wage rate annually for changes in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.
Democrats are using the minimum-wage issue as part of their campaign strategy.
"I promise that if Democrats regain control of Congress the first thing we'll do is pass a minimum wage increase for all hardworking Americans," Kennedy says. "Raising the minimum wage is one of the most important steps we can take to lift more working families out of poverty and into the middle class."
Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia have already set their minimum wages above the federal level.
- Text of minimum wage initiatives on November 2006 ballots: