Ballots that address the minimum wage have been certified for 2016 to appear in three states with certification pending in another eight states. All of the initiatives seek to raise the minimum wage, except one - in South Dakota, the Decreased Youth Minimum Wage Referendum is a veto referendum that would overturn Senate Bill 177, which decreased the minimum wage for workers under age 18 from $8.50 to $7.50 and provide that the youth minimum wage is not pegged to inflation.

Prior to 1996, the minimum wage was rarely an issue addressed on state ballots. Since 1996 however, the minimum wage has increasingly appeared on state ballots, and could appear on the ballot in a record 11 states in 2016. The first time the minimum wage appeared on a state ballot was in 1912 in Ohio.

CSG Midwest
Two more Midwestern states have recently adopted “ban the box” laws, which are designed to improve the job prospects of individuals with criminal records. These laws require public employers to remove questions about an individual’s criminal history on job applications and during the initial screening process. Background check inquiries are delayed until later in the hiring process.

Pension administrators and policy experts presented success stories, strategies for managing public pensions and tools for collecting data on public pensions across the country at a March 29 CSG eCademy webcast, “The Facts on Public Pensions.” The webcast, which was presented in partnership with the Center for State and Local Government Excellence, introduced the Public Plans Data website, a free tool to compare plans across states and help inform debates about retirement security issues.

Public pensions continue to be a topic of great concern to state policymakers across the country. Struggling from years of insufficient contributions, combined with longer-living retiree populations, many states face mounting public pension liabilities. Understanding how your state’s plan compares to others around the country and having access to reliable data about pension plans are both essential  to making evidence-based policy decisions. This FREE CSG eCademy session, presented in partnership with the Center for State and Local Government Excellence, offers background on the state of public pension systems and introduces a free tool which can be used to inform debates about retirement security issues: Public Plans Data.

A jury concluded that pork processing employees should have been compensated per the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for donning and doffing varying protective equipment, but Tyson Foods failed to keep records of the time they spent doing it. In Tyson Foods v. Bouaphakeo the Supreme Court held 6-2 that the employees could bring a collective (class) action lawsuit using “representative evidence” put together by an industrial relations expert averaging donning and doffing time by position based on 744 videotaped observations.

While some jobs and industries are more vulnerable to FLSA overtime collective actions or other class action lawsuits, state and local government are not spared.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, state prison populations have grown significantly over the last few decades and in 36 states, the prison population has more than tripled as a share of the state population since 1978.  Spending on corrections has also increased in states: state corrections spending more than doubled between 1986 and 2013 (after adjusting for inflation), from $20 billion to over $47 billion.   

A new federal law allows persons with disabilities to save for their futures through tax-advantaged  savings accounts set up by states. These accounts -- called ABLE -- are much like 529 college savings plan. 

On February 23, Nebraska Treasurer Don Stenburg announced plans to make his state’s plan available nationwide.

Paid leave laws are only found in three states; California, Rhode Island and New Jersey.  14 states total have leave laws that provide unpaid or paid leave beyond the employee supports found in the federal Family Medical Leave Act, known as FMLA.  The infographic below highlights information on leave laws and the impact they have on employees and employers.  

On January 29, President Obama announced an executive action that will require companies with 100 employees or more to report to the federal government how much they pay their employees, broken down by gender, race and ethnicity. The action is part of a larger effort to close the pay gap between men and women.

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