minimum wage increaseVoters in four states given the opportunity to increase their minimum wages did so, with all passing easily. In the past two election years, voters in 17 states supported minimum wage increases.

Alaskan voters were the strongest supporters, as a measure to raise the minimum in two steps, to $9.75 by 2016, was approved by nearly 70 percent of the voters. In Arkansas, 65 percent of voters gave the thumbs up to an increase to $8.50 by 2017, while nearly 60 percent in Nebraska came out in favor of raising the base wage to $9 by 2016.

Fifty-five percent of South Dakota voters supported an increase to $8.50 on Jan. 1, 2015; the measure also provides for annual increases in subsequent years based upon the rate of inflation.

As payroll departments get set to update their automatic systems to factor in the increases, human resources managers in Oregon and Washington, D. C., will need to revise their policy manuals to accommodate the liberalized marijuana use laws enacted yesterday in those locales.

Although final tallies weren’t yet in today, voters in both places apparently approved measures to allow marijuana use for recreational purposes. Similar laws are already in effect in Colorado and Washington State. Meantime, Florida voters rejected a measure that would have legalized pot for medical purposes.

And in Massachusetts, voters approved a ballot issue expanding mandatory paid sick leave to 40 hours per year for employees working for companies with 11 or more workers. The bill requires smaller companies to give their employees up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave each calendar year.

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