Massachusetts Senate Votes to Raise State Minimum Wage to $11
The Massachusetts Senate voted Tuesday to gradually raise the state's minimum wage from $8 to $11 per hour by 2016. The raise will help over 600,000 workers, particularly women, who make up nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers nationwide.
"Hard working people working full time and being paid our minimum wage now are living in poverty," Senator Dan Wolf told the Associated Press. "Raising the minimum wage is an important step to rebalancing our top-heavy economy."
The Senate also voted to tie the minimum wage to inflation, to require it to always be at least 50 cents higher than the federal minimum wage (currently $7.25 per hour), and to raise the minimum wage for tipped employees, like waiters, to half of the minimum for other workers.
The bill was approved by a 32-7 vote. It will now head to the House, which is unlikely to vote on it until next year, and then to Governor Deval Patrick, who has expressed support for increasing the state's minimum wage. If it passes, Massachusetts will have the highest state minimum wage in the US. It will begin taking effect on July 1, 2014 when it will rise to $9, and then it will rise by one dollar each July until it reaches $11 in 2016.
California recently enacted a similar law raising the state's minimum wage from $8 to $10.
Media Resources: National Women's Law Center 10/4/13; Feminist Newswire 9/27/13, 10/17/13; Boston.com 11/19/13; MassLive.com 11/19/13
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .