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No Minimum Wage Ballot Measure in 2016

Associated Press

Fast food workers protest for higher wages in front of a McDonald's restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip.

There will be no minimum wage measure on the ballot this coming November. That decision comes from a consotium of groups, led by the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN), who scrapped plans for getting the measure before voters.

Bob Fulkerson, PLAN's state director, said the reason for walking away from a minimum wage measure was two-fold: lawsuits by employer groups and the presidential election.

The employer group, The Committee to Preserve Nevada Jobs, filed a lawsuit in December attempting to stop the measure. PLAN and its partners eventually won that suit, but the employer committee appealed to the State Supreme Court.

The delay caused by the lawsuit, said Fulkerson, made it hard to collect the needed 55,000 signatures by mid-June. It also added unnecessary expense. The initial lawsuit cost PLAN and its allies $20,000. The appeal would have cost them closer to $60,000, said Fulkerson.

But Fulkerson said that there were other reasons for leaving a hike in minimum wage till another time. PLAN does a lot of voting rights and civil justice work - initiatives they would have had to virtually abandon to focus on the ballot measure.

In a very tense election year, Fulkerson said, they made the choice that the ballot measure was not the most important issue.

But Fulkerson is hopeful that the state legislature will take up the minimum wage issue in the spring of 2017. Two bills to raise the minimum wage - one to $15 and one to $9 an hour - were proposed but did not pass in 2015. The ballot measure would have raised the minimum wage to $13 an hour over three years.

Bob Fulkerson, State Director and Co-Founder of Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN)

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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Carrie Kaufman no longer works for KNPR News. She left in April 2018)