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National Restaurant Association - Will minimum wage be on your November ballot?

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Will minimum wage be on your November ballot?

We’re starting to get a clearer sense of which cities and states are most likely to see minimum wage increases on their November ballots.

So far, voters in two states—Alaska and South Dakota—will be asked to decide whether the state’s minimum wage should increase. Petitioners have submitted signatures in Arkansas and Nebraska, but the signatures have yet to be verified.

South Dakota restaurateurs and retailers have launched a “No More Mandates” coalition to educate the public on the costs of a mandatory increase. Businesses in the state are suffocating under mandates, said Shawn Lyons, executive director of the South Dakota Retailers Association.

“We’re telling the public, enough is enough,” Lyons said. “If you want businesses to thrive and survive, you have to get the mandates off our backs.” South Dakota has the second-lowest unemployment rate in the nation, he said, and the strong economy has driven up wages in the state. “We want to have an honest discussion about starting wages for unskilled workers and the opportunity to increase wages later based on performance.”

Montine McNulty, executive director of the Arkansas Hospitality Association, reports that activists have said publicly that they expect the list of signatures they submitted last week will fall short. But she notes that the law will give them another 30 days to collect additional signatures. The AHA opposes the proposal, which would increase the state’s minimum wage from $6.25 to $8.50 by January 2017.

In Nebraska, petitioners submitted more than 135,000 signatures to place an increase from $7.25 to $9 on the ballot.

Here’s the latest on state and city ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage:

On the ballot


Alaska: Measure seeks voter approval to raise state’s $7.75 wage in annual $1 increases up to $9.75 on Jan. 1, 2016. Annual cost-of-living adjustments afterward based on inflation. Alaska’s election is Aug. 19.

Illinois: A non-binding ballot question will ask voters whether they think the state’s minimum wage should be increased to $10 from $8.25.

South Dakota: Measure 18 would increase the state’s $7.25 minimum wage to $8.50 on Jan. 1, 2015, and increase the $2.13 minimum cash wage for tipped employees to half of the minimum wage. Both would be adjusted annually for inflation.


Eureka, Calif.: Minimum wage would increase to $12 for all employers with 25 or more employees, up from the current $8.

San Francisco: Minimum wage would increase from $10.74 to $15 by 2017 for companies with fewer than 100 employees, and by 2016 for those with 100 or more employees.

Could be on the ballot


Arkansas: Measure would increase the state’s wage, currently $6.25, to $8.50 by Jan. 1, 2017. Petitioners submitted more than 77,000 signatures. For the initiative to appear on the November ballot, 62,507 of those signatures must be validated.

Nebraska: Measure would impose annual increases to raise the state’s $7.25 wage to $9 by 2016. Petitioners submitted over 135,000 signatures, more than the 81,000 required. Nebraska law requires that petitioners collect a certain percentage of signatures from voters in each of the state’s counties, so the total number doesn’t necessarily mean the measure will appear on the ballot.


San Diego: The city council is considering a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $13.09, from $8, over three years. The measure may be voted on directly or put on the ballot.

Las Cruces, N.M.: Signatures have been submitted to put an increase to $10.10 over three years on the ballot and prohibit employers from counting any tips toward the minimum wage. The current minimum wage in Las Cruces is $7.50, with a permissible minimum cash wage of $2.13 for tipped employees. The city council will decide whether to accept or reject the proposed increase. If the council rejects it, the measure will be on the ballot.

Oakland, Calif.: A measure will appear on the November ballot to increase the minimum wage to $12.25 from $8, and all workers would be guaranteed five annual sick days.

Won’t be on the ballot


Idaho: Petitioners failed to gather the 53,751 signatures necessary to place a measure on the ballot that would have raised the minimum wage to $9.80 from $7.25 and the minimum cash wage for tipped employees to $5.90 from $3.35 by Jan. 1, 2017.

Massachusetts: Activists who had been collecting signatures for a ballot measure calling for annual increases up to $10.50 in 2016 abandoned their efforts last month after the state legislature passed a bill that will increase the minimum wage to $11, from its current $8, and the minimum cash wage for tipped employees to $3.75, from $2.63, by 2017.  

Michigan: A labor-backed campaign to raise both the minimum wage and minimum cash wage for tipped employees was nullified when the state legislature approved a bill to raise the minimum wage in increments to $9.25 by 2018, up from $7.40 today. The state bill also increases the minimum cash wage for tipped employees to $3.52, from $2.65.

Missouri. Activists abandoned their attempt to circulate multiple petitions for increases to amounts as high as $9.25 and have so far failed in their efforts to have the question placed on the ballot through legislation.


Richmond, Calif.: The Richmond City Council last month approved legislation increasing the city’s minimum wage to $13 by 2018, up from $8 today, and tying future increases to inflation. Ballot initiatives for increases to $11, 12.30 and $15 had been considered.

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