State capitol

(WFSB file photo)

HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- The debate over raising the federal minimum wage is more heated than ever, so states are taking matters into their own hands.

Massachusetts and New York have now gone to $15 an hour, and in Connecticut lawmakers are making another push.

"These are real people who have families, some with college experience who need a leg up in this economy,” said Democratic State Rep. James Albis.

Progressive Democrats are adding it to their agenda for the upcoming legislative session, along with paid family leave and making recreational pot legal.

The leaders want to mirror a bill that was signed into law over the summer in Massachusetts, which would phase in $15 an hour in 2023.

But they face opposition.

The National Federation of Independent Business says these policies can hurt more than help and that a "business owner may not be able to raise prices because customers won’t pay, so they are forced to make the tough decision of reducing employee hours or eliminating entry-level jobs."

"I like a lot of these concepts too but if we don't look at what the ramifications are and try to balance the pros and cons to them we are not doing our job,” said Republican State Rep. Themis Klarides.

Raising the minimum wage could affect those on Medicaid, and benefits would be impacted because of the increase in salary.

Paid family and medical leave is also on their agenda.

A Senate bill would allow employees to take earned time off with pay.

That also has some bipartisan support, but House Republicans said the state would have to hire 100 people to run it at a cost of $25 million, at a time CT faces a huge budget deficit.

Then there's recreational marijuana.

A few weeks ago, Massachusetts started selling it, which is tempting since it brings millions in taxes.

The state’s new governor supports it, but some question if the money is worth it.

"It's sort of a philosophical discussion whether or not people should freely have accesses to illicit drug. I don't consider that economic development,” said Republican State Rep. Vinnie Candelora.

Progressive Democrats said these issues are so important to people, which is why Democrats did so well in the election.

However, Republicans said that’s not so, that the election was about President Trump and what’s happening in Washington.

These issues will all be discussed when session starts in January.

Copyright 2018 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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