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January 2004, Vol. 127, No. 1
State labor legislation enacted in 2003
Richard R. Nelson and John J. Fitzpatrick, Jr.
A greater volume of labor legislation was enacted in 2003 than in recent years, despite the fact that budget concerns were a priority for many States.1 California, Illinois, and Texas enacted particularly large numbers of laws.
Legislation enacted addressed several areas of employment standards and included many important measures: increased minimum wage rates; expanded coverage of family and medical leave laws; additional prohibitions on children working in hazardous occupations; and new measures addressing workplace security.
Additional States provided leave for employees who are crime victims; protected the earnings of children working in the entertainment industry; eased regulation of the private employment agency industry; and protected the jobs of reserve and guard members returning from military active duty.
New protections from discrimination were enacted for transgender individuals, prohibitions were enacted on the purchase of goods produced through forced labor, and a California law requires employers to provide healthcare benefits.
This article summarizes significant State labor legislation enacted in 2003. It does not, however, cover legislation on occupational safety and health, employment and training, labor relations, employee background clearance, economic development, and local living wage ordinances. Articles reporting on changes in unemployment insurance and workers compensation laws appear separately in this issue.
Wages. Minimum wage rates increased as the result of new legislation in Illinois, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Vermont; as a result of previous laws in Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Maine; and as a result of prior ballot measures in Oregon and Washington. In Alaska, a 2002 enactment that provided for indexed rate increases was repealed.
This excerpt is from an article published in the January 2004 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 All of the State legislatures met in regular session in 2003. Delaware, Guam, Massachusetts, Missouri, and New Hampshire did not enact significant legislation in the fields covered by this article. Information about Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands was not received in time to be included in the article, which is based on information received by November 10, 2003.
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