Ohio AG Yost clears $15 minimum wage proposal for next steps to get on ballot

COLUMBUS – Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost on Friday approved a petition seeking to amend Article II of the Ohio Constitution and set the state’s minimum wage at $15 an hour in 2028, clearing an early hurdle in proponents’ efforts to put the amendment on the ballot.

The proposal, backed by a coalition of advocacy groups called Raise the Wage Ohio, is still in the early phases of the long process of getting on the ballot.

Yost reviewed the proposal to ensure that it was a fair and truthful representation of what it would attempt to accomplish. Yost previously rejected a proposal on Oct. 14, the first time it was submitted, over sections that didn’t include or conflicted with relevant existing law and parts of the Ohio Constitution, among other issues.

But the second time around, Yost didn’t find any such problems.

The next step in the process is an assessment by the Ohio Ballot Board, which must determine whether the petition contains a single constitutional amendment or multiple amendments. If the board certifies the proposal, the petitioners can begin to collect signatures from registered voters from across the state.

Ohio’s current minimum wage is $9.30 an hour, and $4.65 for tipped workers. After an amendment voters approved in 2006, the minimum wage increases each year with inflation as determined by the Consumer Price Index. Last month, the state announced the minimum wage beginning Jan. 1 for non-tipped employees will be $10.10. It will be $5.05 for tipped workers.

Raise the Wage Ohio, which is made up of advocacy groups from inside and outside Ohio, is targeting the November 2024 ballot for the amendment, it said in a recent statement.

In addition to the $15 minimum wage, the group wants to eliminate exceptions in Ohio’s minimum wage for workers under age 16 and workers with mental and physical disabilities. Tipped workers would earn tips on top of the $15 an hour.

Specifically, it wants to amend Section 34a of Article II by doing the following:

• Increase the Ohio minimum wage to $10.50 an hour on Jan. 1, 2025.

• Stop the annual minimum wage inflation increases that would occur in 2025, 2026, 2027 and 2028, and instead incrementally increase the wages each year to reach $15 by Jan. 1, 2028.

• Restart annual inflation increases on Jan. 1, 2029.

• Require that tipped employees receive the full minimum wage, with tips on top, beginning on Jan. 1, 2029.