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Minimum wage initiative receives new endorsements from four statewide organizations

The campaign's leader says about 22,000 people have signed petitions calling for a $12 minimum wage in Idaho.

BOISE, Idaho — With about two and a half months until all petitions are due, the initiative campaign to increase Idaho's minimum wage has picked up endorsements from four statewide advocacy organizations.

Idahoans for a Fair Wage made the announcement Thursday afternoon at the Idaho State Capitol -- saying Idaho chapters of the American Association of University Women, the League of Women Voters, the National Organization for Women, and United Vision for Idaho "proudly endorsed the initiative, encourage Idaho voters to sign it, and encourage people to help get the signatures needed" by April 30 to get it on the Idaho ballot. 

Idahoans for a Fair Wage began collecting signatures in June, 2019, for the initiative, which has four goals. The main goal is to raise the minimum wage in Idaho from $7.25 to $12 for non-tipped employees, and from $3.35 to $8.10 for tipped employees.

In order to appear on the ballot, the measure must receive 55,057 signatures in the state of Idaho and must be signed by 6% of registered voters in at least 18 of the state's 35 legislative districts. In December, the initiative topped 20,000 signatures and has since reached 22,000 signatures, according to initiative leader Rod Couch.

Couch told KTVB that more than 70 percent of the signatures are valid, but they cannot be sure if all are valid until county clerks confirm the number.

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Idaho's minimum wage has not increased since the federal minimum wage increased to $7.25 in the summer of 2009, according to an article from the Idaho Press. Couch and coalition director Don Kemper feel hopeful that Idahoans are ready for a livable wage.

Kemper noted that those opposing a minimum-wage increase say it's a "starter wage." He called it a "staller wage."

"Our Idaho Legislature has not raised the minimum wage in over ten years. Bills are introduced each session to raise the wage. They never even get out of committee," Kemper said. "Other things do go up. In just one year, rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Boise went up by 14 percent. Rent for a two-bedroom -- 20 percent."

When the initiative campaign began in 2019, after proposals failed to gain traction in the Idaho Legislature, House Speaker Scott Bedke (R-Oakley), said he was uncomfortable with putting new mandates on businesses.

Governor Brad Little told the Idaho Press that he would like to see all Idahoans' wages go up "based on market condtions."

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