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Minimum wage stays ... minimum

South Dakota State Roundup

May 1, 2006

Minimum wage stays ... minimum

Gov. Mike Rounds has a history of supporting higher minimum wages. As a state legislator, Rounds was the sponsor of the most-recent increase in the state's minimum wage in 1997, to $5.15 per hour.

Looking to do that one better, early this year Rounds, a Republican, proposed upping the state's minimum wage from $5.15 to $6. Citing the health of the state's economy and strong per capita income growth, Rounds said at a January press conference, "If there was ever a time when we should consider the minimum wage, I just simply thought this might be the time."

Apparently not. Despite some impassioned speeches by advocates, the matter was defeated rather quietly in the state Legislature this spring. A mid-February news report said the proposal "appears to be dead this session," when committee bills in both chambers failed to get the necessary approval. News accounts reported that no one from the Rounds administration testified for its own bill, nor did any Republicans get behind the measure.

Ronald A. Wirtz