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Group seeks to raise Mo. minimum wage

By DAVID A. LIEB

Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri voters could be asked to raise the state’s minimum wage to $8.25 an hour.

A group that backed a successful wage increase in the 2006 elections is now pushing to get the minimum wage issue back on the ballot for Missouri’s 2012 elections. The proposed initiative already has been submitted to the secretary of state’s office, which must approve a ballot title before supporters can begin gathering signatures.

Missouri’s minimum wage currently matches the federal requirement of $7.25 an hour. The initiative would ask voters to raise that to $8.25 an hour effective Jan. 1, 2013, with an adjustment for inflation in following years. It also would increase the penalties for businesses that don’t pay the minimum wage. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the proposed initiative under an open-records request to the secretary of state’s office.

At $7.25 an hour, the current minimum wage no longer is providing enough money to meet the needs of some families, said Lara Granich, director of Missouri Jobs With Justice, which is part of a coalition backing the new initiative.

“People are really suffering this recession. More and more families are depending on the minimum wage or on one income,” she said. “We believe this is in the best interest of Missouri’s economy and Missouri’s families to bring the minimum wage up to $8.25.”

But the proposed initiative already has drawn opposition from the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which also opposed the 2006 wage increase. The business association has said that a higher minimum wage discourages businesses from hiring additional employees and can result in layoffs.

“The people who are doing this just don’t get it — they’re putting more stress on an already fragile economy,” said Dan Mehan, president and CEO of the chamber. “We will vigorously oppose that.”

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