Loose Lips

Group Wants a Minimum Wage Ballot Initiative

Wilson_Building-1

Marijuana legalization might not be the only initiative on the ballot next November. A coalition of liberal groups will take to the steps of the Wilson Building tomorrow morning to announce plans to push for a ballot initiative on raising D.C.'s minimum wage.

The coalition, called D.C. Working Families, includes several labor unions and Large Retailer Accountability Act activists Our D.C. In a press release today, the group says its members will start collecting signatures for a referendum to increase the minimum wage to $12.50.

That's the same number as the wage hike proposed in Vincent Orange's minimum wage bill, but it could be more more than what the at-large councilmember ends up with. At a debate for mayoral candidates last week, Orange appeared open to supporting a competing proposal that would raise the hourly minimum wage in D.C., Prince George's County, and Montgomery County to $11.50.

The language of D.C. Working Families' initiative would also increased the tipped minimum wage to $8.70 (alert Chef Geoff!) and tie the minimum wage to the cost of living.

So, is it legal? Referenda in the District can't contradict budget acts, the Home Rule Charter, or the Human Rights Act. They also can't appropriate funds, a rule the initial language of the marijuana referendum ran afoul of when it proposed treatment for teens caught with the drug. If the referendum's backers can manage to get the whopping 23,000 signatures required to get on the ballot, a final decision on the initiative would be left up to the Board of Elections.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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