Voters Approve Abortion Rights and Minimum Wage Increases

Leah Shepherd By Leah Shepherd November 9, 2022
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two voters casting ballots

​Voters upheld ballot measures to protect abortion rights and increase the minimum wage in Tuesday's election. Ballot measures to legalize marijuana garnered mixed results.

We rounded up a selection of articles on the news from SHRM Online and other trusted news sources.

Abortion Rights

Abortion access impacts employers and HR in myriad areas, including health benefits, paid and unpaid leave, recruiting, and retention.

Voters in California, Michigan and Vermont approved ballot measures enshrining abortion rights into their state constitutions, while those in the traditionally red states Montana and Kentucky rejected measures that would have restricted access to reproductive care. The votes signal strength to efforts to support abortion rights after the Supreme Court in June ruled to overturn the landmark 1973 case Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right to the procedure.

Kentucky voters rejected a ballot measure to declare there is no right to an abortion in the state constitution, similar to the Kansas measure that was rejected earlier this year. In Montana, voters rejected a ballot measure that would have required health care providers to give medical care to infants born alive after an abortion procedure.

(The Hill and SHRM Online)

California Measure

California voters approved language that would explicitly guarantee access to abortion and contraception in the state constitution. The state already had passed several measures aimed at easing access to abortion and set aside millions of taxpayer dollars to help pay for some out-of-state abortion travel.

California law allows a person to have an abortion until the point when a physician determines "there is a reasonable likelihood of the fetus' sustained survival outside the uterus without the application of extraordinary medical measures" or if the procedure is necessary in order to "protect the life or health of the woman." In most cases, doctors have considered a fetus viable at 24 weeks, but that determination varies based on each pregnancy.

(Associated Press and Los Angeles Times)

Minimum Wage

Minimum wage increases prevailed in Nebraska and Washington, D.C.

The minimum wage measure roiled Washington, D.C., this election season as restaurateurs who favor the current system squared off with initiative proponents who claim food businesses do not pay their workers fairly. Servers and bartenders were divided on the question, with some arguing for the security of a higher wage and others fearing less take-home pay in an environment where tipping might cease to be the norm.

Employers in the District are required to track tips to ensure their workers earn at least the minimum wage. However, Elizabeth Falcon, executive director of DC Jobs With Justice, said, "Restaurants are an industry with one of the highest rates of wage theft. There's widespread noncompliance."

Nebraska's measure will raise the state's minimum wage by $1.50 per year for the next four years. After 2026, the state's wage will be tied to the Consumer Price Index to adjust for inflation.

Opponents in Nebraska argued that raising the minimum wage could force business owners to cut jobs and drive up the price of goods and services.

Nevada residents voted on a measure to increase the minimum wage, but it was too soon to call at press time.

(The Washington Post and Nebraska Public Media)

Legalizing Marijuana

Voters approved recreational marijuana in Maryland and Missouri, but rejected it in Arkansas and North Dakota, signaling support gradually growing for legalization even in conservative parts of the country. A similar initiative to legalize cannabis went before voters in South Dakota, but early Wednesday it was too early to call. About 6 in 10 voters support legalizing the recreational use of marijuana nationwide, according to VoteCast.

(ABC News)

Union Membership

Two state ballot results will impact union membership in the future.

Illinois residents voted on a measure to create a state constitutional right to collective bargaining. It was too soon to call by press time. Labor unions in Illinois backed their state's amendment. Opponents said it could contribute to increased property taxes, thanks to increased bargaining power for public-sector unions.

Meanwhile, Tennessee voters approved a measure to prohibit employers from requiring labor union membership for employees as a condition for employment. Supporters argued that the amendment will protect workers' rights by allowing them to be employed anywhere without being forced to pay union dues that they don't want to pay. Opponents said the amendment will weaken unions that rely on mandatory fees to stay afloat.

(NBC Chicago and Business Insider)

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