Hot off the presses at King County Elections comes the news that both measures seeking to place a referendum on Seattle's new $15 minimum wage law on this fall's ballot have failed to get enough valid signatures to qualify.
The numbers, per King County Elections:
Referendum No. 3 (Forward Seattle)
Number of signatures required: 16,510
Number of signatures submitted and checked: 18,929
Number of valid signatures: 14,818
A second, smaller referendum campaign submitted 455 valid signatures. What does this all mean? Practically, it means nothing. The law instituting a new minimum wage in this city will move forward as planned (until the next challenge). 15 Now has long abandoned efforts to put a more drastic wage hike on the ballot; this referendum from Forward Seattle was the most organized effort currently happening on behalf of the business community to halt the new wage law. So for now, the law still stands. What does it mean politically? That a union-backed campaign to block this referendum succeeded against the city's most vocal critics of the new law. A momentary—and serious—victory for $15.
However: Not to be Debbie Downer and everything, but next year? Looks like we may be facing a statewide initiative backed by Tim Eyman that would preempt the city's ability to have its own minimum wage. And city hall still has to come up with some much more impressive enforcement mechanisms than they put in the original bill if the new wage is to be meaningful and fairly applied.
Bottom line? Pop some champagne tonight but don't give your red "15" T-shirts to Goodwill just yet. Cheers!