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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

One Minimum Wage Campaign Suspends Initiative, Another Continues

Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries

One of the initiative campaigns to raise Oregon's minimum wage announced Monday that it's ending its signature-gathering efforts. But a separate campaign says it will keep trying to get an initiative on the November ballot.

The group that's stopped gathering signatures is largely backed by unions. Their initiative would have raised the statewide wage to $13.50 per hour over the next few years. Oregon lawmakers have approved a measure that would hike the base wage as high as $14.75 an hour in the Portland area, but it wouldn’t fully kick in for six years. Smaller cities would see a smaller increase.

The initiative backers acknowledged the slower timeline but said the legislative version is overall a win for Oregon workers.

But a separate group called Oregonians for 15 said it isn't backing down. Their initiative would raise the statewide wage to $15 per hour over the next three years. The group says the bill approved by lawmakers is "too low and too slow."

Oregonians for 15 has already turned in more than 30,000 signatures, according to the Oregon Secretary of State's office. They'll need 88,184 valid signatures by July in order to qualify for the general election ballot.

Oregon lawmakers gave final approval on February 18 to the bill that would raise the state's minimum wage over the next six years. Governor Kate Brown has until the end of the day on March 3 to take action on the bill. Her office says she intends to sign it.