Tuesday’s Election Approves Several New Ballot Measures Affecting Businesses

While much of the attention from Tuesday’s elections is understandably focused on the presidency and House and Senate races, several ballot measures passed in various states may affect small businesses and professionals directly and indirectly.

One of the most high-profile initiatives was California’s approval of Proposition 22, which made Uber and Lyft exempt from a labor law that aimed to designate rideshare and delivery drivers as employees rather than contractors. While it won’t likely help California freelancers who work outside the app-based economy, it could impact gig workers elsewhere in the country as its widespread voter support could make other states reluctant to consider legislation similar to AB 5, the California law that led to the dispute. PPB Newslink profiled AB 5 in an October 2019 issue. New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York and Illinois are states also considering bills that would make freelancers employees.

In Florida, voters approved a ballot measure that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $10 per hour, effective September 30, 2021. Minimum wage would increase annually by $1 per hour until it reaches $15 per hour in 2026. After that year, it will be adjusted annually for inflation. Florida joins California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York in implementing stepped increases to their state minimum wages, all reaching $15 per hour between 2021 and 2025. The federal minimum wage is currently set at $7.25.

Colorado voters passed a statewide paid-leave program for workers who want to take time off to have a baby or care for a sick family member or loved one. All workers are eligible for the program, including state workers, gig workers and the self-employed, once they’ve earned $2,500 at their jobs. The program requires workers and employers to pay into an insurance pool managed by the Colorado Department of Labor and receive up to $1,100 per week during their time off. Businesses with less than 10 employees, or those already offering comparable programs, are exempt. The measure goes into effect in 2024.

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