Special judge says signatures sufficient on minimum wage measure | Arkansas Blog

Special judge says signatures sufficient on minimum wage measure

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Retired Judge John Robbins, appointed by the Arkansas Supreme Court to review signatures on petitions calling for an initiated act to raise the minimum wage, has found that the signatures were sufficient to qualify the measure for the ballot.

Jackson T. Stephens Jr., millionaire heir to the Stephens financial fortune, had sued Secretary of State Mark Martin to disqualify the measure. He's a leader of the Club for Growth, a political backer of candidates like Tom Cotton who favor cutting taxes on the wealthy and limiting government support for the working poor.

Among Stephens' arguments were that petitioners failed to include legible copies of the proposed law with petitions. Robbins agreed that some more petitions should have been disallowed for this reason, but still not enough to fall below the 62,507 signatures necessary. He said also it was proper to include in an initial count for "facial" validity some signatures where the signature of a notary was in question. He said the notary problem could be cured with additional canvassing after the proposal qualified for 30 more days of signature gathering. Robbins also agreed with the backer of the measure, Give Arkansas a Raise Now, that some petitions were culled in the initial review that should not have been.

Here's Robbins' finding. It is subject to Supreme Court review and the high court also has questions of law to consider. Robbins was only appointed to make a finding of fact as to valid signatures. Stephens also challenges the secretary of state's extension of the deadline for signatures to July 7 because the normal deadline, July 4, fell on a state holiday. This same argument is being raised in a lawsuit to disqualify an alcohol sales amendment.

The proposal would raise the $6.25-an-hour minimum to $8.50 by 2017.

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