District of Columbia

Judge Impedes Effort to Put Initiative 77 Back on DC Ballot

A D.C. Superior Court judge has ruled against an effort to put an initiative that would raise the base wage for tipped workers back on the ballot.

D.C. Council members overturned Initiative 77 in October — months after voters approved it.

Supporters of the pay increase went back on the streets and gathered more than 25,000 valid signatures in just six days to repeal the council's repeal.

A judge issued an injunction Wednesday preventing the DC Board of Elections from processing the thousands of petitions submitted by Save Our Vote, according to a spokesperson for the West End Strategy Team, which supports the measure.

The Washington Post reports the judge agreed with opponents of the measure who said elections officials didn't follow proper procedure when allowing referendum supporters to gather petitions.

Lawyers from both sides of the issue previously said the new referendum, called Referendum 8, wouldn’t even have to be voted on to change the law if supporters collected the 25,000 signatures and got certified to be on the ballot. It would not only require the District to hold a special election early next year, but it would force the first phase of the pay raise to take effect.

"Despite the restaurant association’s best efforts to block the referendum process, Save Our Vote collected and successfully submitted well over the required 25,800 signatures to put Referendum 8 on the ballot," Save Our Vote said in a statement. "Today’s ruling prevents the Board of Elections from processing the signatures of thousands of DC voters who wanted their voices to be heard."

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