LINCOLN — A petition drive to ensure paid sick leave for Nebraska workers got a fast start out of the fund-raising gate.
In its first campaign finance report, Paid Sick Leave for Nebraskans reported bringing in more than $509,000 in donations between late June and late July.
The Sixteen Thirty Fund, based in Washington, D.C., provided $475,000 of the total. The national organization supports efforts across the country to promote “economic equity, affordable health care, climate solutions, racial justice, voter access and other essential social-change goals.”
Meanwhile, a petition seeking to repeal a law providing tax credits for people donating to private school scholarships and a group opposing the repeal both added to their fund-raising totals in July.
The Sixteen Thirty Fund has been active in past Nebraska petition efforts. It provided the bulk of the support to get a measure on the 2020 ballot capping interest rates charged by payday lenders and to put an increase in the state minimum wage on the 2022 ballot. Voters passed both measures.
The current petition proposal would ensure paid sick leave for all Nebraska workers. Employers with fewer than 20 workers would have to offer at least five days of paid sick leave per year, or one hour for every 30 hours worked. Employers with 20 or more workers would have to offer at least seven days per year.
Drive organizers have until early July 2024 to collect valid signatures from at least 7% of registered voters, or about 86,000 people.
Almost all of the other donations for the paid sick leave petition came from supporting local organizations, including Nebraska Appleseed Action Fund, Voices for Children in Nebraska, the Women’s Fund of Omaha, the Nebraska State AFL-CIO and Heartland Workers Center, according to the report filed with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission.
Local donations also boosted the fund-raising totals for Support Our Schools, the group behind the referendum petition, and its counter-group, Keep Kids First.
Support Our Schools added $187,085 to the more than $1.1 million raised earlier this summer. Of the new donations, more than $57,000 came from individual donors, while the Nebraska State Education Association and OpenSky Policy Institute contributed about $125,000.
The petition drive’s largest donation remains the $800,000 received earlier from the National Education Association, the largest labor union in the U.S., representing public school employees.
Keep Kids First added $241,845 to its coffers. The group had collected $504,000 earlier, of which $494,000 came from the American Federation for Children, a national group promoting school choice through a variety of state funding programs.
The national federation added more than $63,500 to its contributions in July, while individual donors provided $153,000 during July. Four donors gave $25,000 each, including Kenneth Stinson, James Timmerman and Michael R. McCarthy, all of Omaha, and Sharon Timmerman of McCook.