Debate over proposal to increase minimum wage in North Dakota

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MINOT, N.D. - A proposal to raise the minimum wage in North Dakota to $15 per hour has gotten many people talking.

The minimum wage in the state is $7.25.

Secretary of State Al Jaeger says he received a draft petition on Monday and is reviewing it. If it's approved, supporters would need to gather and submit at least 13,452 valid signatures to get a proposed measure on the ballot.

A group in North Dakota is pushing to get minimum wage on the ballot this year.

Scott Nodland, Chairman of the Fair Wage Act Voter Ballot Initiative, is in favor of increasing the minimum wage to $15, and says that he hopes others will get on board and contribute to the change.

"Folks who earn minimum wage in North Dakota qualify for subsidy programs. So a mother with a child can get food stamps, and can get housing assistance, and can get all of these other subsidy tax program, tax payer paid programs. And what we're trying to do is lift these people up above the poverty line so that it's not the case that the tax payers are paying for the salaries of these workers but instead the employers are paying the salaries of these workers," Nodland said.

The proposal comes at a time when wages and salaries are a hot debate across the country. Target stores announced this week they are raising their minimum wage to $12 and teachers in West Virginia successfully pushed state leaders to for a five-percent pay raise.

But not everyone says the proposed wage increase is a good thing.

"Raising the minimum wage will have a more negative effect on them than where they are today" said John MacMartin, Minot Area Chamber of Commerce. MacMartin says the increase would create a ripple effect for businesses and consumers.

"When the minimum wage is raised, then people in turn start charging more for their services, and so the people who just got more money are either equal to where they started with or they're further behind," MacMartin said.

An issue that could end up on your voting ballot this November.

Nodland tells us that in the proposal suggests that by 2019, minimum wage would raise to $9.83 per hour. It would raise again to $12.41 per hour by 2020, and it wouldn't be until 2021 that minimum wage would raise to $15 per hour.