On Sept. 6, the Nebraska secretary of state announced that two ballot initiatives had qualified for the November ballot. Voters will decide on a constitutional amendment to require photo ID to vote and a new law that would incrementally increase the state’s minimum wage from $9 to $15 by 2026 and annually adjust for the cost of living thereafter.
Citizens for Voter ID is sponsoring the photo ID amendment. State Sen. Julie Slama (R), Republican National Committeewoman Lydia Brasch, and former state senator and former Douglas County Republican Chairwoman Nancy McCabe formed the PAC and filed the initiative. The initiative has also received support from Gov. Pete Ricketts (R), who said, “Showing ID when they go to vote, it’s one of the ways we can strengthen the integrity of our elections. It’s a great opportunity for the second house, the people of Nebraska, to be able to weigh in a way where the Legislature has not been able to get it passed.”
The measure is opposed by the League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha, Nebraska NAACP, Civic Nebraska, and Black Votes Matter. Civic Nebraska said, “The only thing we are certain these measures would do is to make it harder for eligible Nebraskans — especially young, low-income, rural, black and brown, and senior Nebraskans — to freely and fairly cast a ballot.”
To qualify an initiated constitutional amendment, sponsors needed to submit 123,966 valid signatures with signatures from 5% of the registered voters in each of two-fifths (38) of Nebraska’s 93 counties. The secretary of state reported that the sponsors submitted 136,458 valid signatures and met the state’s distribution requirement in 76 of the 93 counties.
Raise the Wage Nebraska is sponsoring the minimum wage initiative. It’s received support from ACLU of Nebraska, NAACP Lincoln Branch, Nebraska State AFL-CIO, and Nebraska Appleseed. Ken Smith, the economic justice director at Nebraska Appleseed, said, “Workers in low-wage jobs and their families benefit the most from these income increases, reducing poverty and income inequality. Nebraskans should not have to choose between paying their rent and buying groceries. We all want to be able to provide for our families and raising the minimum wage is an important step toward making that a reality for many underpaid Nebraskans.”
The Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) oppose the measure. Gov. Ricketts said the initiative would cost jobs and close businesses in rural communities. Nebraska Chamber of Commerce President Bryan Slone said, “The NE Chamber has opposed creating a patchwork quilt of state minimum wage rules in the 50 states, and supports a uniform federal standard.”
To qualify an initiated state law, sponsors needed to submit 86,776 valid signatures with signatures from 5% of the registered voters in each of two-fifths (38) of Nebraska’s 93 counties. The secretary of state reported that the sponsors submitted 97,245 valid signatures and met the state’s distribution requirement in 44 of the 93 counties.
In November, Nebraska voters will also be deciding on a legislatively referred constitutional amendment that would authorize local governments to develop commercial air travel at local airports.
The certified initiatives were two of 16 filed for the 2022 ballot. Between 2010 and 2020, nearly seven ballot initiatives were filed on average with about one initiative making the ballot each cycle.