2014 Ballot Initiatives

By State: Alaska | Arkansas | Colorado | Illinois | Massachusetts | Nebraska | North Dakota | Oregon | South Dakota | Tennessee

Find information on additional ballot initiatives from the AAUW state organizations AAUW of California and AAUW of Washington.

Alaska

State: Alaska
Name of Ballot Initiative: An Act to Increase Alaska’s Minimum Wage (Ballot Measure No. 3)
Summary: This ballot initiative would gradually raise Alaska’s minimum wage, which is currently set at $7.75 per hour. If approved, the state’s minimum wage would increase to $8.75 on January 1, 2015, and to $9.75 on January 1, 2016. The initiative also restores a cost-of-living adjustment provision to ensure that the state minimum wage rises when the cost of living rises and restores the requirement that the state minimum wage remain at least $1 higher than the federal minimum wage.
AAUW position: Vote Yes.
AAUW’s 2013–15 Public Policy Program states that we advocate for reduction of poverty and a livable wage. With women making up two-thirds of minimum-wage workers nationwide, raising the minimum wage is an important part of ensuring the economic security of working women and their families. When workers earn more, they are better able to provide for themselves and their families. In addition to directly benefiting women and their families, increasing the minimum wage has also been shown to help shrink the persistent gender pay gap.

Arkansas

State: Arkansas
Name of Ballot Initiative: An Act to Increase the Arkansas Minimum Wage (Issue No. 5)
Summary: This ballot initiative would gradually raise the minimum wage in Arkansas, which is currently set at $6.25 per hour — even lower than the federal minimum wage. If approved, the state’s minimum wage would increase to $7.50 on January 1, 2015; to $8 per hour on January 1, 2016; and to $8.50 per hour on January 1, 2017.
AAUW position: Vote Yes.
AAUW’s 2013–15 Public Policy Program states that we advocate for reduction of poverty and a livable wage. With women making up two-thirds of minimum-wage workers nationwide, raising the minimum wage is an important part of ensuring the economic security of working women and their families. When workers earn more, they are better able to provide for themselves and their families. In addition to directly benefiting women and their families, increasing the minimum wage has also been shown to help shrink the persistent gender pay gap.

Colorado

State: Colorado
Name of Ballot Initiative: Definition of Person and Child (Amendment 67)
Summary: Despite three failed attempts at passing a “personhood” amendment (voters rejected the amendment in 2008 and 2010, and the initiative failed to qualify for the ballot in 2012), Colorado voters will once again see this proposal on their 2014 ballot. Amendment 67 would expand the definitions of “person” and “child” in the Colorado Criminal Code and Colorado Wrongful Death Act to include unborn human beings. If Amendment 67, also known as the Brady Amendment, passes, prosecutors could file charges against anyone who commits violence against a fetus. Although the language in Amendment 67 differs from previous versions of the personhood amendment, it could still threaten access to abortion and certain forms of contraception and infertility treatments.
AAUW position: Vote No.
AAUW’s 2013–15 Public Policy Program states that AAUW “believes in the right to privacy, freedom from violence, and choice in the determination of one’s reproductive life.” AAUW members have made the protection of reproductive rights a policy principle since 1977. By elevating the legal status of a person or child to include unborn human beings under state law, Amendment 67 would undermine a woman’s right to choose as set forth in the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. The effects of Amendment 67 would reach far into women’s lives and affect personal health care decisions that should be left to a woman and her doctor.

Illinois

State: Illinois
Name of Ballot Initiative: Birth Control in Prescription Drug Coverage Question (Statewide Advisory Question #2)
Summary: This ballot initiative is an advisory question used to assess public opinion at the state level. The initiative asks, “Shall any health insurance plan in Illinois that provides prescription drug coverage be required to include prescription birth control as part of that coverage?” If passed, this ballot initiative would be a symbolic gesture of support for current state law, which requires health insurance plans in Illinois that provide prescription drug coverage to also cover prescription birth control.
AAUW position: Vote Yes.
The 2013–15 Public Policy Program states that AAUW supports “increased access to quality, affordable health care and family planning services.” Moreover, support for access to contraception has been part of the AAUW Public Policy Program since 1935. Requiring health insurance plans to cover prescription birth control reduces one of the biggest barriers to contraceptive access: cost. The Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage requirement has already helped millions of American women obtain contraceptive services without out-of-pocket costs — but the recent Hobby Lobby decision provides cover to “closely held” employers that want to cite religious beliefs in denying contraceptive coverage to their employees. Voting yes for the Illinois Birth Control in Prescription Drug Coverage Question signals to elected officials that all employees should have access to basic preventive health care services — including contraception — no matter where they work.

State: Illinois
Name of Ballot Initiative: The Illinois Minimum Wage Increase Question (Statewide Advisory Question #1)
Summary: This ballot initiative is a nonbinding advisory question used to assess public opinion at the state level. The initiative asks, “Shall the minimum wage in Illinois for adults over the age of 18 be raised to $10 per hour by January 1, 2015?” If passed, this ballot initiative would be a symbolic gesture of support for raising the state minimum wage.
AAUW position: Vote Yes.
AAUW’s 2013–15 Public Policy Program states that we advocate for reduction of poverty and a livable wage. With women making up two-thirds of minimum-wage workers nationwide, raising the minimum wage is an important part of ensuring the economic security of working women and their families. When workers earn more, they are better able to provide for themselves and their families. In addition to directly benefiting women and their families, increasing the minimum wage has also been shown to help shrink the persistent gender pay gap.

Massachusetts

State: Massachusetts
Name of Ballot Initiative: Massachusetts Paid Sick Days Initiative (Question 4)
Summary: This ballot initiative would enact a law requiring employers with 11 or more employees to allow full- and part-time workers to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. Employees could earn up to 40 hours of paid sick time per calendar year and use the earned sick time for the following purposes: “(1) to care for a physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition affecting the employee or the employee’s child, spouse, parent, or parent of a spouse; (2) to attend routine medical appointments of the employee or the employee’s child, spouse, parent, or parent of a spouse; or (3) to address the effects of domestic violence on the employee or the employee’s dependent child.” Under this proposed law, employees could not be punished just for using their sick time. If passed, Question 4 would not affect an employer’s existing paid leave policy as long as the existing policy provides the same amount of paid time as Question 4 and allows the paid time to be used in the same way.
AAUW position: Vote Yes.
AAUW has long supported flexible workplace policies to address the family responsibilities of employees. Without sick days, employees often come to work ill, which can decrease productivity and infect co-workers. About 40 percent of private-sector employees nationwide do not have paid sick days, including more than 22 million working women. Offering workers the option of taking time off when they or a family member are sick is not just good for women and families, it’s good for business: After San Francisco passed a paid sick days ordinance, 6 out of every 7 employers in San Francisco did not report negative profitability effects.

Nebraska

State: Nebraska
Name of Ballot Initiative: Nebraska Minimum Wage Increase (Initiative 425)
Summary: This ballot initiative would gradually raise the minimum wage in Nebraska, which is currently set at $7.25 per hour. If approved, the state’s minimum wage would increase to $8 on January 1, 2015, and to $9 on January 1, 2016.
AAUW position: Vote For.
AAUW’s 2013–15 Public Policy Program states that we advocate for reduction of poverty and a livable wage. With women making up two-thirds of minimum-wage workers nationwide, raising the minimum wage is an important part of ensuring the economic security of working women and their families. When workers earn more, they are better able to provide for themselves and their families. In addition to directly benefiting women and their families, increasing the minimum wage has also been shown to help shrink the persistent gender pay gap.

North Dakota

State: North Dakota
Name of Ballot Initiative: Measure 1
Summary: Measure 1 states that “the inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.” If approved, North Dakota would be the first state to recognize and protect a “right to life” beginning at conception.
AAUW position: Vote No.
AAUW’s 2013–15 Public Policy Program states that AAUW “believes in the right to privacy, freedom from violence, and choice in the determination of one’s reproductive life.” AAUW members have made the protection of reproductive rights a policy principle since 1977. By elevating the legal status of a person to include a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus under state law, this measure would undermine a woman’s right to choose as set forth in the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. The effects of Measure 1 would reach far into women’s lives and affect personal health care decisions that should be left to a woman and her doctor.

Oregon

State: Oregon
Name of Ballot Initiative: Equal Rights for Women Initiative
Summary: Under the Oregon Constitution, laws granting privileges or immunities must apply equally to all persons. However, the Oregon Supreme Court has held that laws may treat people differently based on sex if justified by specific biological differences. The proposed Equal Rights for Women amendment would guarantee that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the State of Oregon or by any political subdivision in this state on account of sex.” The language of the amendment closely mirrors the language of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
AAUW position: Vote Yes.
AAUW’s 2013–15 Public Policy Program states that AAUW “opposes all forms of discrimination,” “supports constitutional protection for the civil rights of all individuals,” and “affirms our commitment to passage and ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.” Oregon’s Equal Rights for Women amendment would reaffirm a commitment to equal rights regardless of gender and represent a step forward in the national fight for ERA ratification.

South Dakota

State: South Dakota
Name of Ballot Initiative: Initiated Measure to Increase the State Minimum Wage (Initiated Measure 18)
Summary: This ballot initiative would raise the minimum wage for nontipped workers in South Dakota from $7.25 per hour to $8.50 per hour on January 1, 2015. If approved, the state’s minimum wage would be annually adjusted in future years according to cost-of-living increases.
AAUW position: Vote Yes.
AAUW’s 2013–15 Public Policy Program states that we advocate for reduction of poverty and a livable wage. With women making up two-thirds of minimum-wage workers nationwide, raising the minimum wage is an important part of ensuring the economic security of working women and their families. When workers earn more, they are better able to provide for themselves and their families. In addition to directly benefiting women and their families, increasing the minimum wage has also been shown to help shrink the persistent gender pay gap.

Tennessee

State: Tennessee
Name of Ballot Initiative: Tennessee Legislative Powers Regarding Abortion (Amendment 1)
Summary: The proposed Amendment 1 inserts state constitutional language empowering the legislature to “enact, amend, or repeal state statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.” Some anti-choice members of the legislature claim Amendment 1 is necessary to regulate and restrict access to abortion in Tennessee. However, the legislature has already passed several laws placing restrictions on abortion in Tennessee without the proposed amendment. Previously passed restrictions and regulations include requiring parental consent for minors seeking abortion, requiring physicians performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, and requiring facilities to post signs saying a woman cannot be coerced into having an abortion.
AAUW position: Vote No.
AAUW’s 2013–15 Public Policy Program states that AAUW “believes in the right to privacy, freedom from violence, and choice in the determination of one’s reproductive life.” Amendment 1, if passed, could embolden state legislators to attempt to repeal existing state statutes that protect reproductive choice, especially in the circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest and/or when necessary to save the life of the mother. AAUW does not support this maneuver to further decrease reproductive health care access.