Nebraska voters will decide minimum wage, voter ID measures

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska voters on Tuesday will have a chance to significantly raise the state’s minimum wage, require that voters provide government identification at polling places and increase the ability of airports to expand service.

The wage and voter ID measures will go before voters because of signature-gathering campaigns, while the airport measure was placed on the ballot by the Legislature.

The pay measure would gradually increase the minimum wage from the current $9 an hour to $15 hourly by 2026, with an initial bump to $10.50 in January 2023. The measure comes eight years after Nebraska voters overwhelmingly approved a minimum wage increase to its current level.

Given that Nebraska has one of the nation’s lowest unemployment rates and employers have had difficulty finding enough workers, it’s unclear how many people will get raises if the measure passes. Supporters of the increase estimate it will raise wages for about 150,000 Nebraska workers.

Gov. Pete Ricketts and some business groups have opposed the move, saying wage levels should be left to the market.

Marlene Ricketts, the governor’s mother, bankrolled the voter ID campaign after the Legislature repeatedly failed to approve such a measure, largely because of Democratic opposition. The measure would add a requirement to the state constitution that people show a government-issued photo identification in order to vote, with lawmakers later ironing out the details.

Even supporters of the measure acknowledge that Nebraska has no history of voter fraud, but they contend that a voter ID law is needed to prevent future abuses. Democrats argue that such requirements, which have been approved by Republican-controlled states across the country, are meant to tamp down turnout by minorities and others who are more likely to not have appropriate ID and tend to vote for Democrats.

The Legislature unanimously placed the airport measure on the ballot. It would allow organizations that operate airports to use airport revenue to encourage more commercial plane service by offering to guarantee a minimum amount of revenue to an airline during the first few months of new service at an airport.

Voters won’t have a chance to vote on a measure that sought to legalize medical marijuana in the state after advocates failed to gather enough signatures.

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