With heated opposition brewing, governor and Republican Party oppose minimum wage rollback | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

With heated opposition brewing, governor and Republican Party oppose minimum wage rollback

Posted By on Wed, Mar 13, 2019 at 3:04 PM

The blowback on Rep. Robin Lundstrum's sneak attack last night on the voter-approved minimum wage increase has been fierce, enough that the governor and Republican Party have distanced themselves from her efforts.

We reported the ins and outs here, including the legal mess this bill has become. An amendment was filed last night, though not added to the bill, aimed for one thing at clearing up a flaw in drafting that experts said rolled back the minimum wage to $7.25 for young people, nonprofits, small businesses and others affected. It would override even the last increase to $8.50 an hour, they said.

Today's developments:

The Associated Press' Andrew DeMillo reports that Gov. Asa Hutchinson told a meeting of the Political Animals Club that he opposed efforts to roll back the minimum wage increase. Voters moved it to $9.25 an hour with two subsequent increases planned to $11 by 2021. He reportedly said this legislature shouldn't change the voter-approved initiative.

A spokesman for the governor said he'd informed Lundstrum directly of his opposition.

UPDATE: I've now posted the video of the governor's remarks. I note he references an Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce lobbyist as being behind the push for the bill. And the governor said he was "sympathetic" to the chamber's point of view, one reason he opposed the measure. But having said that, he added, "This is an act of the will of the people of Arkansas and I do not believe it should be changed by legislative action." He noted that waivers to allow payment of 85 percent of the minimum are available for qualified employers hiring students.

The Republican Party added its voice in support, according to a statement obtained by KATV.

click to enlarge rpa.png

A change in the measure would require a two-thirds vote. Democrats have promised a political attack on those who've moved quickly to change a law approved by two-thirds of Arkansas voters. That fact didn't stop Lundstrum, Sen. Bob Ballinger and other supporters on the committee previously. Will the governor and party statements change things? I'm seeking a comment from Lundstrum.

The Democratic Party was already making hay on the events. Said Party Chair Michael John Gray: “We can’t start a trend of letting people in a marble building in Little Rock overturn the will of 68 percent of Arkansas voters.”

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