A historic midterm election with “unusually high turnout,” according to The New York Times, allowed the Democrats to capture the House, ending one-party control of Congress and potentially laying the groundwork for a focus on healthcare policy changes.
“While it is too soon to tell, it is likely the Democratic-led House will look to expand upon the [Affordable Care Act], to improve the public exchanges and expand Medicaid; consider some type of expanded role for Medicare; fight efforts to weaken the public exchanges; build upon efforts to control prescription drug prices, and consider paid employee leave legislation,” Steve Wojcik, vice president of public policy at the National Business Group on Health, said in a statement.
But Republicans cemented their control of the Senate, meaning employers will likely see President Trump’s nominees for court and executive positions to be considered and approved at a faster rate, Michael J. Lotito, shareholder at Littler Mendelson P.C., previously told HR Dive. That also means any legislation to come out of the House will likely need to be heavily modified before anything reaches the President, Wojcik said. Immigration reform could be on the table, for example, though such a move would be difficult without Senate support, according to a statement from the Society for Human Resource Management.
On the state level, voters passed a number of measures that could impact employer policies. For a selection of those results, see below.
Minimum wage changes: Winners
- Arkansas passed Arkansas Issue 5, the minimum wage increase initiative, with 68% of the vote. The measure will raise the state minimum wage to $11 per hour by 2021, starting with a raise to $9.25 on Jan 1, 2019.
- Missouri passed Missouri Proposition B, the $12 minimum wage initiative with nearly 62% of the vote. According to the proposition, the state minimum wage will increase every year until it reaches $12 per hour by 2023, and then it will increase or decrease based on changes in the Consumer Price Index. The first increase will be to $8.60 in 2019.
Marijuana legalization: Winners
- Michigan passed the Marijuana Legalization Initiative, which allows for the legalization of recreational use and possession of marijuana for people age 21 and over. Employers in the state may need to examine their drug policies accordingly, though the substance remains illegal on the federal level. Ballotpedia predicts the measure will go into effect in December when the election results are certified, but the Detroit Free Press reported it’s unlikely marijuana will be available for sale until 2020.
- Missouri passed Missouri Amendment 2, which supported a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. Medical marijuana can create some headaches for employers, though experts previously told HR Dive that the Americans with Disabilities Act does not necessarily protect its use.
- As of publication, Utah’s vote on Utah Proposition 2, the Medical Marijuana Initiative, was not fully reported but numbers are in favor of its ultimate passage.
Marijuana legalization: Losers
- North Dakota rejected North Dakota Measure 3, the Marijuana Legalization and Automatic Expungement Initiative, which would have legalized recreational marijuana for people over the age of 21 and created an automatic expungement process for those with marijuana-related convictions.