The backers of an initiated act to increase the state’s minimum wage fell short of the required signatures to qualify for the ballot but gathered enough for a 30-day extension of signature gathering.
The Arkansas secretary of state notified David Couch, attorney for the effort, that the petitioners had gathered no more than 52,124 valid signatures, with 67,887 needed. But because the petitioners had turned in 68,861 signatures initially, they qualified for a 30-day “cure” period. The period runs from the date of the notice, today.
The proposal would raise the minimum wage from $8.50 to $11 by 2021. (NOTE CORRECTION: I’ve been writing the final year of the phase-in was 2022.) The petition drive got a late start, about 30 days before the July 6 deadline, because Attorney General Leslie Rutledge had been refusing to certify all ballot petitions until the Arkansas Supreme Court ordered her to approve one. The group, financed by labor-backed progressive groups, has used paid canvassers and continued to gather signatures after the July 6 deadline in expectation the first round might fall short.
Business interests have formed a committee to oppose the measure. No word yet if they’ll intervene, as sometimes happens, in the signature certification process.
UPDATE: Couch said the minimum wage campaign is close to wrapping up.