Minimum Wage Hike To Stay On November Ballot

Gloria Smith canvasses to get out the vote.
Credit PBS NewsHour

Arkansas' highest court says the November ballot can include a proposal to gradually increase the state's minimum wage.

The Arkansas Supreme Court's ruling on Monday rejects a challenge by a Little Rock businessman who wanted to block a ballot question that asks voters to raise the state's minimum wage from $6.25 an hour to $8.50 gradually by 2017.

Arkansas is one of the few states with a minimum wage below the federal level of $7.25 an hour.

Democrats had pushed for the issue to be on the ballot.

In an opinion written by Associate Justice Paul Danielson, the state's highest court rejected businessman Jackson T. Stephens Jr.'s argument that signatures submitted for an initial deadline were later determined to be invalid, and therefore, signatures gathered before a secondary deadline should not be counted.

The court also rejected Stephens’ claim that the petition, filed on July 7 was late. The court cited its recent decision on The Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Amendment that would legalize alcohol sales statewide. That decision said the July 7th deadline was valid.

Early voting for the election began Oct. 20.