Update: More Signatures Submitted for Wage Hike Item

by Associated Press  on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014 3:52 pm  

LITTLE ROCK - A group pushing to gradually raise Arkansas' minimum wage submitted additional signatures Monday to try and get their proposed hike on the November ballot

Officials with Give Arkansas a Raise Now submitted 69,070 signatures to Secretary of State Mark Martin's office for the proposed initiated act. Last month, it was given a 30-day extension after falling 15,107 signatures short of the 62,507 registered voters' signatures needed to qualify.

"I feel pretty confident that we'll make the cut," said Matthew Hass, a member of the group and chief executive officer of the Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association. "I think there's a high demand that we give Arkansas a raise, period. I think everyone believes that if you work 40 hours a week, no one should have to worry where their food's coming from to feed their children at night."

The proposal calls for raising Arkansas' minimum wage from $6.25 an hour to $8.50 an hour by 2017.

It has been embraced by Democrats, who are hoping to use the issue to turn out the vote in the November election as they try to prevent a Republican takeover of the state's top offices. Most of the state's Democratic candidates, including gubernatorial nominee Mike Ross and U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, have endorsed the proposal.

The group was one of two ballot initiative campaigns that were given extra time to gather signatures. Let Arkansas Decide, a group proposing to legalize alcohol sales in all 75 counties, submitted 41,492 signatures Friday to Martin's office. The alcohol sales campaign had been given additional time after it fell 17,133 signatures from registered voters shy of the 78,133 needed to put the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot.

Both proposals could be affected by a potential challenge by a group that opposes the expanded alcohol sales measure. That group, Let Local Communities Decide for Themselves, asked Marin's office to block the measure, arguing that Martin should have used July 4 as the deadline for submitting petitions, since that would have been four months before the Nov. 4 election. An attorney for the group last month said it would likely challenge the measure before the state Supreme Court if Martin certified it for the ballot.

Petitions for the wage and alcohol measures were both submitted on July 7, the deadline the state used for delivering signatures since July 4 was a state and federal holiday.

Martin has 30 days to review the petitions and verify that the signatures are from registered voters.

Above: Give Arkansas a Raise Now submits its additional petitions for minimum wage hike. Photo by Andrew DeMillo of The Associated Press.

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