Supporters of $15 minimum wage amendment withdraw from 2024 ballot, consider 2025 instead.

Ohioans will not have the opportunity to vote on a potential increase in the state’s minimum wage this November.

Supporters of a state constitutional amendment aimed at gradually increasing the minimum wage to $15 beginning in 2025 and subsequently indexing it to inflation, failed to submit signatures ahead of the Wednesday deadline to include the initiative on the November ballot. Nevertheless, they revealed their intentions to keep hold of the hundreds of thousands of signatures they have collected as they seek to gain more support to place the measure on the ballot in 2025.

To be eligible for submission, the Ohio Secretary of State’s office required One Fair Wage, a minimum wage campaign group, to provide a total of 413,487 voter signatures, with a minimum number from at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties.

The campaign spokesperson issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon acknowledging that the group had not met the requirement of 44 counties. However, shortly after the statement was released, the campaign reversed course, but unfortunately, they failed to submit the signatures before the deadline of 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday.

In early June, the group made an announcement stating that they had acquired over 500,000 signatures. However, it is expected that many of these signatures will be invalidated by the election officials due to not meeting legal requirements. This can be because the signer is not registered to vote or the information provided in the petition does not match their voter record on file.

According to the campaign’s recent update, they have yet to meet the requirement of collecting signatures in all 44 counties that is equivalent to 5% of the county’s total voters in the November 2022 gubernatorial election.

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With the exclusion of the minimum wage amendment, it appears that only one statewide matter is expected to be on the November ballot. On Monday, a movement supporting a redistricting reform amendment handed in approximately 731,000 signatures to the secretary of state. It is probable that this campaign will be eligible to participate in the November election. This is due in part to the fact that it has submitted more signatures than the previous year’s victorious abortion-rights campaign before being approved for the ballot.

The current Ohio Redistricting Commission, which is currently controlled by Republicans and consists of seven elected officials, would be replaced by a citizen’s panel if the amendment is passed. The new panel would consist of 15 members, with equal representation from Republicans, Democrats, and political independents.

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio Restaurant and Hospitality Alliance celebrated the failure of the minimum wage campaign to submit signatures to appear on the ballot this year. Secretary of State Frank LaRose, in a statement, criticized the campaign for falsely blaming him for access issues to his office due to a downtown Columbus fireworks show that closed several roads. Additionally, LaRose called out the group’s statement that its petition gatherers had faced racist attacks while working in rural Ohio.

According to a campaign statement, petition circulators faced challenges in gathering signatures in rural regions, with non-white workers reportedly experiencing verbal harassment and threats.

In a prepared statement, LaRose emphasized that his team has done everything possible to ensure a seamless and safe filing process for the petition. He explained that they collaborated with various local agencies, including the city’s Emergency Operations Command, the Columbus Police Department, the Ohio Highway Patrol, and the Columbus mayor’s chief and deputy chief of staff. LaRose also made it clear that access problems were never an issue and that rural Ohioans should not be held responsible. He further stated that he will not remain silent while any group tries to distort the truth to conceal their own negligence.

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What would the minimum wage amendment do?

Ohio is considering a proposed amendment that would raise the minimum hourly wage for all nontipped workers to $15, a significant increase from the current rate of $10.45 per hour. The amendment, if passed, would be implemented gradually, with workers seeing an increase to $12.75 per hour in 2025 before reaching the $15 per hour mark in 2026.

The indexing of the amount would be done annually to match the inflation rate, which implies that the amount is expected to increase every year.

Tipped workers, who currently earn a minimum of $5.25 per hour, will also be affected by the proposed amendment. However, the full implementation of this change is not expected until 2029.

The AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union are among the state labor unions supporting the minimum wage campaign, which has received the Ohio Democratic Party’s endorsement. The One Fair Wage campaign argues that the proposed minimum wage increase would provide a crucial pay raise to 1.2 million hard-working Ohioans who find it challenging to make ends meet.

Critics of raising the minimum wage argue that it will result in businesses increasing their prices, passing on the additional costs to consumers, and forcing employers to cut jobs.

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