Minimum wage, voter ID petitions qualify for Nebraska’s November ballot

Legislature also put airport measure on ballot

By: - September 6, 2022 10:19 am

People enter a voting precinct to vote. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

OMAHA — Nebraskans will vote this fall on a pair of petitions, one that could increase the minimum wage to $15 by 2026 and another that could require a photo ID to cast ballots.

The Nebraska Secretary of State’s Office said Tuesday that both petition efforts secured enough valid signatures from Nebraska voters to get on November’s general election ballot.

The Legislature added a third item to the ballot, Legislative Resolution 283CA. It would allow airports to use money they raise to incentivize commercial air service to the airport.

Medical marijuana failed

The petition to legalize medical marijuana did not secure enough signatures from enough parts of Nebraska to get onto the ballot this year. Organizers have said they’re trying again.

Sponsors of the Raise the Wage campaign celebrated ballot access as a milestone for a years-long effort to increase Nebraska’s $9 an hour minimum wage to $15 by 2026 and then index that raise to the cost of living.

They argued that inflation has hit 150,000 low-income Nebraskans the hardest. One in five workers who would benefit from the increase are parents, Raise the Wage Nebraska said. About 95,000 Nebraskans would be affected by an increased minimum wage, the group said.

“The reality is that the cost of groceries, housing, and basics have gone up for years, and the minimum wage hasn’t kept up,” said Nancy Williams, president and CEO of No More Empty Pots.

Qualified in 44 counties

The minimum wage effort turned in 97,245 signatures validated by county election officials, including the required 5% from registered voters in 38 counties, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. They secured more than 5% in 44 counties.

Voter ID petition sponsors, including State Sen. Julie Slama of Dunbar, marked another step in a decade-plus process that has seen previous efforts to pass a constitutional amendment filibustered or defeated.

“It is very clear, as evidenced by the enthusiasm we countered as Nebraskans signed this petition, that voters care about election security and they want voter ID in Nebraska,” Slama said in a statement.

The Voter ID petition required signatures from 10% of registered voters in Nebraska because it aims to change the state constitution. Citizens for Voter ID secured 136,458 valid signatures, exceeding the required 5% in 76 of the state’s 93 counties, election officials said.

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Aaron Sanderford
Aaron Sanderford

Political reporter Aaron Sanderford has tackled various news roles in his 20-plus year career. He has reported on politics, crime, courts, government and business for the Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal-Star. He also spent several years as an assignment editor and worked two stints as an editorial writer. From 2005 to 2007, he served as communications director for then-Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman. Aaron most recently was the lead investigative reporter for KMTV 3 in Omaha, focusing on holding public officials accountable. His work has received awards from the Associated Press, Great Plains Journalism and more.

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