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Backers of amendment to hike minimum wage in Ohio still working as deadline approaches

Workers with Raise the Wage Ohio gathered signatures for their ballot issue at the Statehouse on Monday, July 1, as activists who want to change the redistricting process celebrated submitting their petitions for the November ballot.
Sarah Donaldson
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Workers with Raise the Wage Ohio gathered signatures for their ballot issue at the Statehouse on Monday, July 1, as activists who want to change the redistricting process celebrated submitting their petitions for the November ballot.

As activists who want to change the process of drawing lawmakers’ district lines celebrate submitting their petitions for a fall ballot issue, another group is still working on their signatures. That campaign has till Wednesday to get 413,487 valid signatures to put their plan to increase the minimum wage before voters in November.

The Raise the Wage Ohio constitutional amendment would hike the minimum wage to $15 an hour plus tips in 2026. The group is relying on volunteers and directly hired signature gatherers instead of a firm.

“That means restaurant workers, other low wage workers who are Ohioans to collect the signatures. That's been our process that we've been doing for over a year now," said Mariah Ross with Raise the Wage Ohio. "And then we also have volunteers who are wonderful, who are collecting all around the state at various events and with friends and family. And so yeah, it’s definitely a hybrid approach.”

“We know this is going turn out hundreds of thousands of new and unlikely voters to vote themselves a raise this November," said Ross. "The economy is top of mind for most voters right now, including jobs with living wages and of course, cost of living. And so this is the most important issue this year and quite frankly, for many years to come.”

Ross won’t reveal how many signatures the group has, but said they’ll be out for a final big push over till submitting petitions on Wednesday, which is the deadline to make the fall ballot. The group had petitions at the rally following the filing of signatures by Citizens Not Politicians, the group backing a proposal to overhaul redistricting in Ohio.

Ross said her group expects well-funded opposition from the Ohio Restaurant and Hospitality Alliance, the main lobbying group for restaurants, bars, hotels and similar businesses. ORHA put out a survey in May that claimed bartenders and servers overwhelmingly prefer the current system.

And pushback is likely from Republicans, who have typically opposed measures to increase the required minimum wage. A proposal from Sen. Bill Blessing (R-Colerain Twp.) seeks to offer an alternative, raising the wage to $15 for non-tipped workers over four years starting in 2028, with tipped workers receiving $7.50 an hour. Critics have noted that would not be a constitutional amendment but a law that could be changed and wouldn't take effect until 2028, two years after the amendment would raise the wage if it's approved.

Copyright 2024 The Statehouse News Bureau