When the Legislature returns to formal sessions in January, lawmakers will have four months to consider seven initiative petitions certified by Secretary of State William Galvin and referred to the House clerk on Monday. Galvin forwarded to the clerk the seven petitions whose backers gathered in excess of the 68,911 signatures required to initially qualify for the November 2014 ballot. According to Galvin’s official tally, the petition to expand the 5-cent bottle redemption law to water bottles, juices and other drinks turned in the most signatures with 94,950, followed closely by a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.50 an hour, which had 94,316 signatures. The other petitions that qualified include the Patient Safety Act limiting the number of patients a nurse can care for at one time (90,826); earned sick time (84,682); limiting excessive hospital operating margins and CEO compensation through financial transparency (80,076); unchaining future gas tax increases from inflation (77,383); and repealing the 2011 legalization of casino gambling (72,901). The Legislature has until May 6, 2014 to act on the petitions, according to Galvin. If no action is taken, petitioners must gather an additional 11,485 signatures by July 2 to qualify for the ballot. Several of the topics covered by the petitions, such as the minimum wage, are pending before the House and Senate in similar, if not identical bills. The Senate voted in November to raise the minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2016 and House leaders have suggested they could take up the matter in early 2014, but petitioners could still pursue their ballot question as they wait for resolution, or if a final minimum wage bill does not satisfy their interests.

Category: Legislative Update