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Election Results Beyond the Presidency: How Do Key State and Local Decisions Impact Compensation?

When’s the last time you earned $7.25/hour? That’s the federal minimum wage guaranteed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In Washington State, the minimum wage has been higher than the federally mandated level since January 2005.

While the presidential election has been top of mind this week for many Americans, and it is undeniable that the presidency has a huge impact on compensation, some of the state and local election results have been very noteworthy as well.  While PayScale’s last article explored the implications of a Trump presidency on compensation, today we’ll dive into some of the notable state and local elections that had compensation on the ballot.

One thing we know about the results of the presidential election: the state laws are going to matter more than in the past. Now more than ever, companies in multiple states will need to keep tabs on what’s going on in multiple locations. There were two main laws on the ballot for states this election. Join us as we review election decisions for Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave.

Minimum Wage

Four states have approved minimum wage increases in the 2016 elections.

  • Arizona approved Proposition 206, which increases the state minimum wage to $12/hour by 2020, beginning with an increase to $10/hour in 2017. Flagstaff has approved Proposition 414 increasing the city minimum wage to $15/hour by 2021.
  • Colorado approved Amendment 70, which increases the state minimum wage to $12/hour by 2020, starting with an increase to $9.30/hour in 2017.
  • Maine approved Question 4, increasing the state minimum wage to $12/hour by 2020, starting with an increase to $9/hour in 2017. Question 4 also aims to get rid of the reduced minimum wage for tipped workers by 2024.
  • Washington approved Initiative 1433, increasing the state minimum to $13.50 by 2020, jumping up to $11 in 2017. Seattle and SeaTac, who both have higher minimum wages, will continue to follow local laws.
  • Interestingly, in Referendum 20, South Dakota voted not to decrease the minimum wage for those under 18.

Paid Sick Leave

Many states and localities have been working on paid sick leave bills and ordinances this year. Connecticut, California, Massachusetts, Oregon and Vermont already have state-wide paid sick leave. With this election, two new states are added to the list, along with some localities. Here are the results:

  • Arizona’s state-wide Proposition 206 also includes the accrual of paid sick leave beginning July 2017.
  • Washington’s state-wide Initiative 1433 also requires employers to provide paid sick leave beginning in 2018.
  • In Illinois, Cook county, including Chicago, passed a nonbinding referendum in support of earned sick time. Essentially, the vote says “yes, this issue matters to us,” but doesn’t actually enact a law.

While some states were raising minimum wage or making paid sick leave mandatory, seven others were legalizing marijuana. With more than half the states legalizing marijuana, either medical or recreational use, it will be interesting to see the impact on mandatory drug testing policies at multi-state US companies.

One last thing to watch: while seats changed in both the US House and US Senate, at this point, the G.O.P. has control of both. That said, both are close enough to the middle that it’s not likely that constitutional amendments will be passed any time soon, and as a reminder, it takes an amendment or a new court ruling to overturn Supreme Court rulings. 2017 should be an interesting year with lots of changing laws at the federal, state, and local level. Until then, the FLSA changes still go live on December 1st!


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Mykkah Herner
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Mollie Grant
Mollie Grant

In my opinion the the employees must get a average wage $12 along with leaves. Whatever the evolution made that must be fit to everyone.

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