Rich heir to Stephens fortune sues to stopproposed minimum wage increase | Arkansas Blog

Rich heir to Stephens fortune sues to stopproposed minimum wage increase

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JACKSON THOMAS STEPHENS JR.: Is the multi-millionaire the man challenging a suit attempting to throw a minimum wage increase off the ballot?
  • JACKSON THOMAS STEPHENS JR.: Is the multi-millionaire the man challenging a suit attempting to throw a minimum wage increase off the ballot?
A motion was filed today before the Arkansas Supreme Court challenging the initiated act to increase the minimum wage. The petitioner wants it removed from the Nov. 4 ballot.

A petition asking for a special master to be appointed indicates the challenge will contest the sufficiency of signatures.  It will also challenge, as in a pending contest of an alcohol sales measure, the submission of petitions on  July 7. The deadline normally would have been July 4, a holiday. Secretary of State Mark Martin followed past practice and extended the deadline to the next business day, July 7.

The  motion asks for expedited scheduling.

The lawyer in the case is David Sterling, who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for attorney general.

The plaintiff was listed as "Jackson Thomas Stevens Jr."

Jackson Thomas Stephens Sr., or Jack Stephens, was the founder of the Stephens Inc. investment empire and his son, Jack Jr., known as Steve, has lived off his inherited fortune, with a variety of business enterprises that haven't achieved his father's successes. He has been a stalwart supporter of conservative causes and is a major bankroller of the Club for Growth, an advocate for lower taxes on the wealthy.

It would be ironic, wouldn't it, if one of Arkansas's richest men was challenging an increase in the minimum wage and his lawyer didn't spell his name right?

UPDATE: Indeed, the Democrat-Gazettte's Claudia Lauer confirms, the plaintiffs is inherited wealth scion Steve Stephens, who's made a career of denigrating help for poor people and deriding welfare even as he's coasted along on inherited riches.

The petition indicates the challengers would like to be heard Oct. 9 when the Supreme Court hears arguments on the deadline issue in the challenge of the constitutional amendment to allow alcohol sales statewide. It would challenge the signatures separately. Sterling indicates he'd like to depose canvassers and review signatures.

Give Arkansas a Raise Now, a coalition backed by labor groups and others, hired paid canvassers to gather signatures to make the ballot. The measure would raise the state's current $6.25-an-hour wage to $8.50 in stages by 2017.

UPDATE
: The complaint itself is now on line. It details more of the alleged deficiencies in the signature gathering process. It contends a "significant number" of signatures are illegible. It also said many signatures were on petition sheets where the ballot title was not legible, as is required. Also, printing requirements were not met, the lawsuit said, on original petitions submitted. The backers barely cleared the minimum necessary to qualify for more time to gather additional signatures. If enough of the original signatures were disqualified, it would disqualify the extension of signature gathering. The suit also questions whether some of the required notary signatures were forged.


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