For the first time since 2008, voters in Nebraska will vote on a statewide ballot initiative. And luckily, it’s one to raise the minimum wage.
A measure to raise the minimum wage to $9 over two years qualified for Nebraska’s ballot with about 90,000 signatures–9,000 more than needed. For comparison, that’s about 11 percent of Nebraska’a 2012 voting population.
When it comes to smaller states seeing huge responses to chance to raise the minimum wage, Nebraska isn’t alone. South Dakotans turned in 26,000 signatures to get the chance to raise their minimum wage to $8.50. And at the same time Mark Begich and Dan Sullivan go head-to-head in a tight contest for U.S. Senate, Alaskans will vote in November on a measure raising the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation.
If you need proof that raising the minimum wage is an issue that crosses party lines, look at these three states.
In Nebraska’s race for U.S. Senate, Republican Ben Sasse is consistently leading Democrat Dave Domina by 17 to 25 percent. But 55 percent of Nebraskans support raising the wage, according to a poll by Voices for Children.
Over in South Dakota, voters are split between three candidates for U.S. Senate, with Republican Governor Mike Rounds ahead. On raising the wage? SurveyUSA found 60 percent support the minimum wage ballot measure.
And finally, Alaska is the site of what many expect to be one of the year’s closest U.S. Senate races. However–you guessed it!–the minimum wage increase is crushing with 67 percent, according to Public Policy Polling.
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., Congress left for August recess with no action on wages. In the Senate, Mitch McConnell lead a knee-jerk filibuster against a bill raising the minimum wage to $10.10, and Speaker Boehner refuses to bring it before the House for a vote.
If Congress continues to be unresponsive to the key economic issue facing working families today, expect more cities and states to take it upon themselves to act. And expect candidates in 2014–mostly Republican, but some Democrats as well–to be in an awkward position while they stick with their default opposition to raising the minimum wage.
Photo by @BetterWagesNE on Twitter