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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Minimum wage petitioning resumes

Posted By on Thu, Jul 3, 2014 at 9:19 AM

I've learned this morning that petitions for an increase in the Arkansas minimum wage won't be submitted today, as had been expected, but will turned in July 7, the deadline. I'm trying to reach Steve Copley, leader of the campaign for Give Arkansas a Raise Now coalition, by my source indicates the plan changed so that more signatures could be added to the total gathered already.

Copley told me yesterday that the group had 75,000 signatures, more than the 62,507 required, but signatures are always disqualified and Copley indicated he expected the auditing process might well reduce the number of valid signatures below the number required. In such cases, groups who meet the raw number limit are given 30 days to gather more valid signatures.

UPDATE: Copley said he's still confident the campaign has the number of unvalidated signatures necessary to qualify for more consideration if too many are thrown out, but the campaign decided to use the holiday weekend to gether more.

The proposal, backed heavily by organized labor and the Democratic Party as a campaign tool this year, would increase the current minimum in Arkansas, $6.25 an hour, to $8.50 by 2017. Our minimum is the lowest is fourth lowest in the country. Democratic candidates support the increase. Republican candidates either oppose it or have refused, in the case of Tom Cotton, to take a position.

One wrinkle in the process that typically has petitioners looking for a cushion is that to qualify for more time, a petitoner must submit 62,5017 "facially valid" signatures. Obvious forgeries — pages and pages of them have been discovered on occasion in other campaigns — can be disqualfied from the total on the front end. Concerns exist among many supporters of the minimum wage initiative on the canvassing effort, which had shut down after the inital financing was depleted.

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