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January 2005, Vol. 128, No.1
State labor legislation enacted in 2004
John J. Fitzpatrick, Jr.
States enacted a lesser volume of labor legislation1 in 2004 than in recent years, due, in part, to an increased focus on budget issues. Forty-four States and the District of Columbia met in regular session, while the remaining States (Arkansas, Montana, North Dakota, Nevada, Oregon, and Texas) were not scheduled to meet in regular session this year. However, some of the latter did meet in special sessions dedicated to various issues. California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Virginia enacted a significant number of laws having to do with labor issues.2
Volume aside, the legislation that was enacted by the States addressed a significant number of employment standards areas and included many important measures. Worker privacy was the "hot-button" issue of the year, with more than 30 pieces of legislation enacted, while issues such as workplace violence and security, a variety of prevailing-wage issues, drug and alcohol testing in the workplace, the discharge of employees, child labor issues regarding hours of work permitted, payment of wages to employees, and plant closings were all included in new or amended legislation enacted in 2004. The legislation covers 23 separate labor-related areas of interest.
As of January 1, 2005, minimum-wage rates were higher than the Federal standard in Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. Of the 43 States with minimum-wage laws, only 2 (Kansas and Ohio) have rates lower than the Federal rate of $5.15 per hour.3
This excerpt is from an article published in the January 2005 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 Not included in the volume of labor legislation tracked in this article are laws dealing with most occupational safety and health issues, employment and training, labor relations, employee criminal background checks (except for those dealing with security issues), living wages, and economic development.
2 Alabama, South Dakota, and Vermont did not enact significant labor legislation in 2004. Information about Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands was not received in time to be included in the article, which is based upon information received by November 12, 2004.
3 Several tables displaying State labor law information, including a table on State minimum-wage rates and a table on State prevailing-wage laws, along with a number of tables concerning child labor issues, are available on the Internet at the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment Standards Administration, website; visit http://www.dol.gov/esa/programs/whd/state/state.htm.
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