North Carolina’s conservative legislative majorities would have never allowed it, but here are two constitutional amendments adopted by voters in other states this week that would have done vastly more for our state than the dreadful and deceptive proposals that appeared on our ballot:
#1 – A minimum wage hike – As the Economic Policy Institute reports:
…[V]oters in Missouri and Arkansas gave overwhelming approval to ballot measures that will raise their state’s minimum wage over the next several years, lifting pay for a combined 1 million workers. In Missouri, 62 percent of voters elected to raise the state minimum wage from its current $7.85 to $12 an hour in 2023. In Arkansas, 68 percent of voters supported a measure that will raise the state minimum wage to $11 per hour in 2021 from its current value of $8.50.
The increase in Arkansas will raise pay for an estimated 300,000 workers (about a quarter of the state’s wage-earning workforce). The Missouri increase will lift pay for 677,000 workers (also about a quarter of wage-earners in the state.) In both cases, the majority of workers who will get a raise are women, most work full time, and they come from families with modest incomes.
#2 – Nonpartisan redistricting to bring an end to gerrymandering – This is from Wired.com:
Americans remain sharply divided at the ballot box, from which political party they support to initiatives on issues like climate change. But they consistently voted against one thing on Tuesday: gerrymandering. In Michigan, Missouri, and Colorado, voters overwhelmingly passed ballot initiatives to put an end to this practice; as of Wednesday evening, another in Utah held onto a slight lead. They join another initiative passed in Ohio earlier this year.
These initiatives either set up independent redistricting commissions or vastly limit the ability of a single party to unilaterally draw the lines. That could dramatically change the electoral map when districts are redrawn in 2021 and, if it works as planned, could create more districts where voters get to choose their representatives—not the other way around.
Previous polls confirm that had such amendments appeared on the ballot here, both would have passed by a mile. As the composition of the General Assembly gradually and inexorably changes to genuinely reflect the voters of our state, let’s hope North Carolinians keep banging the drum for causes like this that would actually improve our state and the lives of our people.