Voters in three states will weigh in on employment-related ballot measures this November. Measures in Arkansas and Missouri would raise the minimum wage — an issue that is typically popular with voters— while a California measure would allow ambulance providers to require workers to remain on-call during breaks. This is a notable decrease in employment-related activity at the ballot compared to 2014 and 2016, when voters increased the minimum wage in four states each year and decided whether to enact right-to-work laws in several states.
Some of the downturn in ballot activity can be attributed to the legislatures in Delaware (DE SB 170), Massachusetts (MA HB 4640), and Michigan (Initiative Petition Workforce Opportunity Wage Act), all of which enacted legislation this year to increase the minimum wage. Legislation in Delaware increased the minimum wage to $8.25 per hour on October 1, 2018 and to $9.25 per hour October 1, 2019. In Massachusetts and Michigan, the legislatures acted specifically to keep voters from deciding on ballot measures.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R) signed a “Grand Bargain” bill in June that incrementally increases the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour over five years and eliminates required overtime pay on Sundays and holidays. The legislation also includes a paid family and medical leave program that was set to appear before voters as well. Both the Massachusetts $15 Minimum Wage Initiative and the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Initiative, backed by Raise Up Massachusetts, were on their way to the ballot before the Grand Bargain was passed. Afterward, proponents agreed to drop the initiatives and did not submit the additional 10,792 signatures required to put the measures before voters.
In Michigan, the legislature voted to enact the proposed Michigan One Fair Wage initiative, increasing the minimum wage to $12 per hour, and the “MI Time to Care” initiative, mandating that employers provide employees with paid sick leave that accrues at a rate of one hour per every 30 hours worked. It is highly likely that voters would have approved the initiatives if they had appeared on the ballot, which would have barred the legislature from amending them except with a three-fourths vote. Because the Republican-controlled legislature enacted the initiatives, it may now make changes to the legislation with a simple majority.
Read on for descriptions of the ballot measures in Arkansas, California, and Missouri.
Missouri Proposition B incrementally increases the minimum wage to $12 per hour in 2023, with annual increases or decreases thereafter tied to the Consumer Price Index. Currently, the minimum wage in Missouri is $7.85 per hour. If passed, the wage would rise to $8.60 per hour on January 1, 2019, with scheduled annual increases until 2023. Raise Up Missouri is registered in support of Proposition B, with support from the Fairness Project, Sixteen Thirty Fund, and National Employment Law Project. Raise Up Missouri has raised $1.74 million in support of Proposition B and spent $1.08 million. No committees have registered in opposition to Proposition B.