Last week, Community First Whatcom, formerly People First Whatcom, launched signature-gathering efforts for two local ballot initiatives for the City of Bellingham.

If passed, the first measure would increase the minimum wage in the City of Bellingham to $1 above the state’s minimum wage in year one and $2 above the state’s minimum wage in year two and moving forward. The first increase would be effective May 1, 2024, with the second increase beginning May 1, 2025. The state’s current minimum wage is $15.74 an hour. Further, this measure would institute enforcement mechanisms and prohibit employer retaliation against employees, giving the city access to work sites and records.

This measure would not affect the pay of city workers. Community First Whatcom states that city codes prevent this measure from affecting city workers, but they welcome the city to adopt this increase proactively.

The proponents of this measure have until June 30 to gather 3,093 valid signatures and have announced their current total sits around 450.

The group is also pursuing a second measure requiring a 120-day notice before raising rent by 8% or more a month and requiring landlords to pay relocation fees equal to three times the monthly rent if an increase of 8% or more is made.

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