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Petition for Ohio minimum wage hike moves forward from attorney general’s office

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A petition that would increase Ohio’s current minimum wage to $10 in 2017 and $12 in 2021 has been certified by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

The amendment was proposed by Stand Up for Ohio, and organization that focuses on getting a livable wage for Ohioans through ballot measures.

“So far, what we’re hearing is really positive,” said Laurie Couch, communications director for the Stand Up for Ohio. “Three rounds of polling show that a strong majority of Ohioans would be supportive of raising the minimum wage to $12 statewide, and that’s encouraging.”

If the amendment is pushed through into Ohio law, it would raise the minimum wage to $10 per hour by Jan. 1, 2017. From there on out, the wage would increase by 50 cent increments each year until 2021, where it would rest at $12, according to the initiative petition. After that, it will be adjusted for inflation.

This will amend existing Article II in the Ohio constitution, which currently sets the minimum wage rate at $8.10 per hour.

Additionally, the amendment requires that tipped employees be paid a minimum of $6 per hour, so long as the employer can prove that the employee will be receiving enough in tips to match the minimum wage. This wage also must be increased each year in increments of up to $1 so it equals the required minimum wage rate.

As soon as the hourly wage for a tipped employee becomes equal to the annually-adjusted state minimum wage, it will be increased by the rate of inflation from then on.

The petition was certified on Oct. 23 by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, according to a press release, and will go to the Ohio Ballot Board for further consideration.

Couch acknowledged that the amendment will face opposition, but she is confident that it will appease many Ohioans. She attributed part of the resistance to raising the minimum wage to larger corporations and retailers.

Although bigger businesses can afford the hike, but still end up opposing it, small businesses that tend to have less financial means often pay above the minimum wage and are in support of raising it, Couch said.

She also believes the minimum wage hike would have a positive effect on communities as a whole.

“We’ve seen that this is good for local economies,” Couch said. “When working people have more money in their pockets, they spend that money in the local economy. They strengthen their local economies and their communities.”

The petition is one of the initiatives that Stand Up for Ohio has undertaken in order to raise the wage. Couch said they have also discussed advocating for municipal reform in larger cities like Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland.

“I think it comes down to what is doable and what will get passed,” Couch said. “But we do believe that Ohioans are ready for the minimum wage to be a living wage.”

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