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Court blocks latest attempt to halt NY's $15 wage

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A New York court has turned back the most recent attempt to thwart a $15 minimum wage for the state, ruling that the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo had the authority to set the new pay floor.

The governor used a peculiar state law to set in motion gradual increases in the minimum wage to $15 in most areas of the state by 2022, bypassing the legislature.

The legislature has since tried to temper the impact of the law—and restore what lawmakers see as the correct balance of power—by lengthening the phase-in through legislation. A five-judge Appellate Division panel decided over the weekend that legislation does not trump the governor’s lawful action.

That action has been challenged by the National Restaurant Association, which argues that the governor is overstepping his executive authority in setting laws. The NRA appealed the wage hike initially to the New York Industrial Board of Appeals, a government body that hears challenges of labor-related legislation. In December, the board rejected the NRA’s arguments.

The affirmation of the board’s decision comes as a phased-in $15 minimum wage is becoming a reality in other areas of the country. San Diego approved a $15 wage last Tuesday by ballot initiative, roughly a week after the District of Columbia also approved a rise in the pay scale.

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