Mary Fallin, Oklahoma's Republican governor, signed a bill into law on Monday that would prohibit cities across the state from establishing mandatory minimum wage or vacation and sick-day requirements.
According to opponents of the bill, the new measure was aimed at Oklahoma City, where an initiative is underway to establish a citywide minimum wage of $10.10 an hour, which is higher than the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
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Attorney David Slain, a supporter of the proposed minimum wage increase in Oklahoma City, told The Associated Press that the legislation Fallin signed
would take away "the right of the people to decide minimum wage."
Slain said he and others would move forward with a petition that needs 80,000 signatures to bring it to a statewide vote in the upcoming election.
Oklahoma State Rep. Randy Grau, a Republican from Edmond, Okla., backed the governor's move. He told the AP on Tuesday that the law adds "safeguards that protect small businesses and consumers."
"This bill provides a level playing field for all municipalities in Oklahoma," Grau said. "An artificial raise in the minimum wage could derail local economies in a matter of months. This is a fair measure for consumers, workers, and small-business owners."
Oklahoma State Sen. Dan Newberry, who co-authored the measure, echoed Grau's sentiment.
"With the country just exiting the Great Recession and many businesses struggling to get by, it is imperative that these decisions be made at the state level and follow the compliance with the federal wage requirements," Newberry said.
The minimum wage debate has been playing out across the nation for years. Last year, President Barack Obama proposed a nationwide minimum wage goal of $9 per hour
. It will likely be a major talking point for Democrats in the upcoming 2014 Congressional election.
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On Jan. 1 of this year, 14 states raised their hourly minimum wages
. However, just three of the states legislated a minimum hourly rate of at least $9: Washington State at $9.32, Oregon at $9.10, and California at $9.
The other 11 states include Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Of those states, Vermont is on the high end of the spectrum with $8.37 an hour, while Missouri is at the low end with $7.50 an hour.
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