Ohio’s $15 minimum wage amendment sputters on deadline day, campaign says

Ohio Secretary of State condemns “disorganized goat rodeo of a campaign” as it shifts aim to Nov. 2025

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

The campaign behind a $15 minimum wage amendment in Ohio opted not to submit the hundreds of thousands of signatures it collected before the state’s Wednesday deadline and instead vowed to try for a ballot measure in 2025, according to a statement.

One Fair Wage’s decision means that there will be no option to raise the state’s $10.45 minimum wage this November, to the delight of many pro-business groups, including the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce.

“The proponents are calling themselves ‘One Fair Wage?’ I guess my reaction would be, ‘Fair to who?’” said Chris Kershner, president and CEO of the Dayton chamber, in an interview. “It doesn’t sound like mandates on the business community are very fair to the employers in Ohio.”

Under One Fair Wage’s proposal, a $15 minimum wage would be phased in over two years and would be tied to rise at the same rate of inflation.

“When mandates are put onto businesses, businesses have to make operation decisions that impact their companies, their people, their investments and their growth,” Kershner said. He added that the chamber would still need to run the numbers and he couldn’t provide real estimates of how much a higher wage would affect Dayton-area businesses, or how many layoffs it might bring.

One Fair Wage would have needed to deliver its petitions to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office in Columbus before midnight Wednesday.

In order to get on the ballot, any citizen-initiated constitutional amendment aiming for the ballot this year would need to submit 413,487 signatures of valid Ohio voters, with at least half of Ohio’s counties producing signatures that represent 5% of the voters who partook in the last gubernatorial election in that county.

In a statement first shared by the Statehouse News Bureau and later confirmed by this news outlet, One Fair Wage said it fell short in Ohio’s rural areas and, therefore, did not meet the 44-county requirement.

The organization attributed its shortcomings to “violence and intimidation toward our low-wage worker of color canvassers, who were verbally abused and harassed by those opposing raises for workers” in rural counties. The campaign did not immediately provide details to corroborate these accusations when the Dayton Daily News asked.

In a Wednesday night statement, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose called out One Fair Wage for placing blame on rural Ohioans. He characterized it as “a duplicitous, disorganized goat rodeo of a campaign that has made every excuse in the book for their lack of compliance with the law.”

“I won’t sit quietly while any group distorts the truth to cover for their own negligence,” LaRose said.

One Fair Wage’s own statement concluded with a vow to continuing collecting signatures and to try again next year.

By holding off, One Fair Wage is playing it safe to ensure that it can use the bulk of the signatures it already collected in the future. Here’s how the cost-benefit analysis works in these situations:

• In Ohio, turning in 413,487 signatures is enough to begin the state’s verification process. From there, the state would send each county’s signatures to the respective county board of elections, which would then verify whether those signatures are valid. The counties would then send their findings back to the Ohio Secretary of State, which would determine if, in the end, the campaign had submitted enough valid signatures to meet the state’s lofty ballot requirements.

• If it’s determined that there weren’t enough valid signatures, the campaign would get a 10-day cure period to try to collect enough valid signatures to get over the line.

• However, if the campaign falls short of the initial 413,487 signature haul, or falls short after the 10-day cure period, the entire process would restart and none of the previously-collected signatures could be used in the future.

• Luckily for organizers in positions like One Fair Wage, signatures for citizen-initiated amendments in Ohio are evergreen (so long as the individual’s voter registration remains the same), which gives petitioners the option of simply holding off until they are absolutely certain they’d make the ballot.

Note: This is a developing news story and may be updated as more information becomes available.

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Avery Kreemer can be reached at 614-981-1422, on X, via email, or you can drop him a comment/tip with the survey below.

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