On July 7, Raise the Wage Nebraska, the campaign behind a ballot initiative to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2026, submitted over 152,00 signatures to the secretary of state. Currently, the minimum wage is $9 per hour.
In Nebraska, the number of signatures required to qualify an initiated state statute for the ballot is equal to 7% of registered voters as of the deadline for filing signatures. Because of the unique signature requirement based on registered voters, Nebraska is also the only state where petition sponsors cannot know the exact number of signatures required until they are submitted. Nebraska law also features a distribution requirement mandating that petitions contain signatures from 5% of the registered voters in each of two-fifths (38) of Nebraska’s 93 counties.
As of July 1, 2022, Nebraska had 1,239,599 registered voters, which would make the signature requirement 86,772.
The initiative would incrementally increase the state’s minimum wage according to the following schedule:
- $10.50 on January 1, 2023;
- $12.00 on January 1, 2024;
- $13.50 on January 1, 2025; and
- $15.00 on January 1, 2026.
Every year after 2026, the minimum wage would be adjusted by the increase in the cost of living.
In 2014, Nebraskans voted to increase the minimum wage incrementally to $9 by 2016. The measure was approved by 59.47% of voters.
The 2022 initiative has received support from State Senator Megan Hunt (D), Senator Terrell McKinney (D), the ACLU of Nebraska, Heartland Worker Center, NAACP Lincoln Branch, Nebraska State AFL-CIO, and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Nebraska.
Nine states have passed laws or ballot measures increasing their statewide minimum wage rates incrementally to $15 per hour. California is the first of those states to reach $15 per hour in 2022.