Minimum wage, anti-Pebble measures pass easily

Two ballot measures, either of which would have been high-profile in an election year that didn't include an expensive Senate contest and an effort to legalize marijuana, won by wide margins as the last precincts reported early Wednesday morning.

Ballot Measure 3: Raise the minimum wage

With all 441 of the state's precincts reporting, Ballot Measure 3, an effort to increase the state's minimum wage, passed with 69 percent voting in favor and 31 percent opposing.

Measure 3 would raise the state's minimum wage by $1 in 2015 to $8.75 an hour, and another dollar in 2016, to $9.75 an hour. If passed, it would make Alaska's the seventh-highest minimum wage in the nation along with New York.

Proponents argued that the 49th state's high cost of living makes it impossible for people working minimum wage jobs to afford housing, food and health care. Opponents claimed that raising the state's minimum wage will increase the cost of goods and services, leading to higher prices and job losses.

Ballot Measure 4: Bristol Bay mining restriction

Ballot Measure 4, which would enable the Alaska Legislature to ban proposed mining in the Bristol Bay watershed if lawmakers believe the project would endanger wild salmon stocks, passed with 65 percent of votes in favor, to 35 percent opposed.

Currently, only state and federal agencies decide on mining permits.

The measure adds another layer of oversight for the proposed Pebble mine. The mine site is near several Bristol Bay salmon streams that produce some of the largest runs of wild sockeye salmon in the world.

In 2008, Alaska voters rejected an outright ban on large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay region. The Alaska Clean Water Initiative failed to pass with 43 percent of the vote.

Sean Doogan

Sean Doogan is a former reporter for Alaska Dispatch and Alaska Dispatch News.