Idaho Voters Won't Weigh In On Minimum Wage Increase Or Medical Marijuana

May 1, 2014

money, wages
Credit Molly Messick / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho voters won’t be making any new laws when they go to the polls in November. Efforts to get two initiatives on the ballot failed to get enough signatures by Wednesday’s deadline.

The people who wanted Idaho voters to legalize medical marijuana gathered 559 qualified signatures after a year of trying.

The effort to raise the state’s minimum wage came closer to the goal with 8,157 qualified signatures by late Wednesday afternoon.

Both needed 53,751 signatures to get their initiatives on the ballot.

Idaho has the second highest percentage of minimum wage jobs in the country. The state uses the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Anne Nesse led the effort to change that. She says her small volunteer force was very dedicated. But she’s frustrated that others who expressed support couldn’t be persuaded to give their time.

“We had 12,000 likes on our Facebook page,” Nesse says. “And if each person who liked that page had downloaded the initiative and got four signatures we would easily have won.”

Nesse has a theory about why she couldn’t enlist more help.

“Idaho citizens aren’t used to becoming activated politically, thinking they have the power to change the way we run the state,” she says.

Nesse was particularly frustrated that she couldn’t persuade other nonprofit groups to join her effort. She says many that are in favor of raising Idaho’s minimum wage felt they didn’t have the resources to help her initiative effort. She says she’ll try again in the next election cycle.

Copyright 2014 Boise State Public Radio