DC I-82 opponents file last-ditch appeal to keep measure off vote



Opponents of Initiative 82 — an attempt to raise the minimum wage for tip workers in the district — continued their fight on Friday to keep the measure out of November’s election.

A panel of three DC appellate judges has ruled that the question should go before the city’s voters. But the opponents’ lawyers on Friday asked the entire court to try the case again.

Her request for an expedited hearing before the full DC Court of Appeals, aka a hearing en banc, perpetuates a legal battle over whether Initiative 82 should have been granted access to the ballots. As proposed, the measure aims to raise the city’s tipping minimum wage (about $5.05 per hour) to DC’s standard minimum wage ($16.10 per hour) by 2027.

Opponents of the initiative, including some local restaurant owners and workers who say the measure would be costly for businesses and potentially discourage customers from tipping, have argued in court that DC’s Elections Committee made procedural errors in its finding whether supporters had collected enough valid signatures; Earlier this year, they submitted 32,000 of them. Opposition lawyers had until Friday night to decide whether to ask the full Court of Appeal for a new hearing.

Lawyers for Initiative 82 supporters have until Tuesday to comment; The court’s active judges will then likely vote en banc on a rerun. If a majority of them vote in favour, the full court will retry the case.

A similar situation played out in April, ahead of the district primary in June, when Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5), a member of the DC Council, then a candidate for DC Attorney General, campaigned after his election to remain on the ballot is not eligible for selection by the electoral board. A tricameral judge denied McDuffie’s first appeal of the Election Committee’s decision, and after his attorneys requested a retry en banc, the judges split their vote.

The request was rejected. McDuffie, who changed his political affiliation to independent after the primary, is now running for a seat on the general council.

The DC Court of Appeals must move quickly in its ruling on Initiative 82; The electoral commission is legally required to mail ballots to foreign and military voters by September 23.


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