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Arkansas Minimum-Wage Initiative Clears One Hurdle

October 5, 2018

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.—The ballot initiative to raise Arkansas’ minimum wage from $8.50 an hour to $11 by 2021 overcame one hurdle Sept. 24, when a magistrate ruled that petitioners for it had collected enough valid signatures to qualify. Special Master Sam Bird, a retired state Court of Appeals judge, rejected an Arkansas Chamber of Commerce front group’s argument that signatures collected by paid canvassers who lived out of state should be invalidated if they listed their “current” address as where they were staying in Arkansas instead of their permanent address. The “obvious purpose of requiring addresses for canvassers,” he wrote, is to ensure that state elections officials can reach them during the campaign. The state Supreme Court still has to approve his decision before the measure can be put the ballot. “What the Chamber was trying to do was disenfranchise tens of thousands of Arkansas voters based on alleged clerical or technical errors such as someone leaving the last letter off their name,” David Couch, an attorney for the Arkansans for a Fair Wage campaign, said after Bird’s ruling. The group estimates the initiative would raise wages for 300,000 workers, one of every four in the state. Read more

October 5, 2018

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