Voters took to the polls in November and approved big hikes in fourstates’ minimum wages: Washington State, Colorado, Maine andArizona.

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Related: Next U.S. president will face uphill struggle todeliver higher wages

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But the increases may not actually take effect as votersintended because elected representatives -- mostly Republicans --are moving to rein them in. In Washington, where voters opted for a$13.50 an hour minimum wage by 2020, and Maine, where it was set torise to $12 that year, state legislators have proposed a battery ofbills to water down the increases. The city council in Flagstaff,Arizona has done the same to a local initiative that would haveboosted the wage floor to $12 this year, sooner than the statewideincrease.

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“You have the voters on the one hand who are saying, ‘This iswhat we need, this is what our communities need,’ and then you havepolicy makers coming in and saying, ‘Well, what you need isn’t goodfor you,’” says Heather Boushey, the executive director of theleft-of-center Washington Center for Equitable Growth.

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The bills represent the latest round in a long-running debateamong cities, states, voters and courts over who gets to set wagerates and other workplace rules. With the federal minimum static at$7.25 since 2009, and little hope of movement in theRepublican-controlled Congress, labor groups and Democrats haveturned to state and local bills and ballot measures, securing $15wage laws in states like California and cities around the country.On Election Day in 2014, voters approved smaller increases indeep-red Arkansas, Alaska, Nebraska and South Dakota.

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Business groups have also sought to contain such efforts, whichthey say kill jobs and leave an unwieldy patchwork of policies.They’ve filed lawsuits including a still-pending challenge toWashington’s new wage hike and one against Arizona’s, which thatstate’s top court unanimously rejected March 14. They’ve alsohelped push laws to block local wage increases in states likeAlabama and Iowa by denying cities the authority to set their ownlabor standards.

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Related: Doomsayers got it wrong on higher minimumwages

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Liberal groups such as the NAACP have responded with lawsuits oftheir own, including one that contends the mostly-white Alabamalegislature’s override of mostly-black Birmingham’s minimum wagelaw violates the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In 2015, South DakotaGovernor Dennis Daugaard signed a law excluding workers under 18from his state’s new voter-approved minimum wage, which voters theninvalidated in another referendum last fall. But legislators inother states are following in Daugaard’s footsteps.

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“It just makes it that much better for the public,” says MaineRepublican State Senator Scott Cyrway, the sponsor of a billallowing his state’s minors to be paid less than the new minimumwage. “It’s trying to help the economy and help our kids learn workethic and help business people to hire teenagers.”

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Related: What are the implications for compensation underTrump?

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Cyrway’s bill is one of nine proposing changes to the new $12minimum wage law that are slated to be considered by a jointHouse-Senate labor committee at hearings Wednesday. Others wouldinstead freeze the state’s minimum at $9 an hour; stop it frombeing indexed to inflation; or forbid it from exceeding the averageminimum wage in New England.

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“We don’t want to be in the position where we start to bleedjobs,” said Republican Michael Thibodeau, Maine’s state senatepresident. “Maine can’t afford to be an outlier.”

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Thibodeau and other legislators compare the minimum wagereferendum to the marijuana legalization voters also approved inNovember, to which legislators plan to add additional safetysafeguards. He says the wage hike threatens to have negativeconsequences voters didn’t see coming, like driving jobs toneighboring states.

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The evidence doesn’t support such fears, says economist MichaelReich, who chairs the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics atUniversity of California, Berkeley. "Nobody’s going to travelseveral miles in rush hour, or any kind of traffic, to save anickel on a hamburger," says Reich, who co-authored a study ofthirty-five years of data on restaurants along state borders andfound no job-killing effects from minimum wage increases. "It’sjust not what happens."

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The most likely change to pass in Maine is a restoration of the“tip credit,” the differential between the general minimum wage andthe lower rate that companies can pay to tipped employees. Underthe referendum, tipped workers would eventually be owed the sameminimum wage from their employers as everyone else, as is alreadythe case in states like California.

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Legislators from both parties have proposed going back toMaine’s prior law, under which servers get half of what non-tippedemployees like dishwashers are owed. Republicans control thegovernorship as well as the state senate; while Democrats hold 77of the 151 seats in the state house, half a dozen Democrats haveco-sponsored bills restoring the tip credit. “I call myself a ‘JobsDemocrat,’ and I think this is a jobs issue,” said one of them,Representative Martin Grohman.

Servers’ pay

Democrats in Maine have revoked raises for servers in thestate’s crucial restaurant industry before. City council members inPortland, the state’s largest city, voted in 2015 to cancel anincrease in tipped workers’ minimum wage that they’d approved acouple months earlier as part of an overall wage increase. Thelegislators said the increase for tipped workers had been includedin the law by mistake.

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Related: Companies look to make pay moretransparent

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“It’s easy to throw tipped workers under the bus,” said HeatherMcIntosh, a restaurant server who says she’ll be more vulnerable tosexual harassment if the legislature leaves her reliant oncustomers’ tips in lieu of the full minimum wage that votersintended. “Without it, I oftentimes have to grin and bear it.”

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Some legislators are urging against watering down the new wageincrease. “I think the ballot question was clear, and I thinkvoters did understand the question,” said State Senator ShennaBellows, a Democrat who represents a district that backed bothPresident Trump and the new minimum wage. “For me, the will ofvoters is extraordinarily important."

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Such arguments don’t sway Washington State Senator MichaelBaumgartner, who introduced bills to delay the minimum wageincreases for voters there, and to carve out non-profits and minoremployees. “A lot of times voters just don’t have full informationor recognize the impact,” he said.

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Legislators have already amended a wage hike in Flagstaff, wherethe city council voted March 21 to void a provision of November’slocal ballot measure that would have required the city’s minimumwage to exceed the state’s by at least $2. Because Arizonans alsovoted in November to hike the statewide minimum, that provisionwould have brought Flagstaff’s wage floor up to $12 by July. “Welistened to all of these extreme viewpoints and said, ‘Hey, we haveto do something reasonable,’” said Democratic council member JimMcCarthy.

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While Republicans control Arizona’s governorship andlegislature, the statewide minimum wage is shielded by the state’s“Voter Protection Act,” which prevents lawmakers from amendingvoter-approved laws unless the changes have at least three-quarterssupport in each house of the legislature and also “further thepurpose” of the initiative. Republicans say the unintendedconsequences from the minimum wage hike illustrate the need to letlegislators intervene.

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“A lot of the folks out there are presenting this as thelegislature trying to attack the voters,” said Arizona HouseSpeaker J.D. Mesnard, who last year unsuccessfully proposed aninitiative to make it easier to amend other initiatives. “Thepeople who are saying that are all special interests.”

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