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(Bloomberg) — U.S. voters raised the minimum wage in five states, including Illinois and Nebraska, as part of a wave of local efforts to aid the lowest earners at a time when Republicans are blocking nationwide measures in Congress.

The states, joined by Alaska, Arkansas and South Dakota, agreed to increase hourly pay rates above the $7.25 federal level, according to preliminary results from the Associated Press. The votes add fuel to a debate likely to emerge as a lightning rod in the 2016 U.S. presidential race.

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