LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KARK) – The Arkansas Supreme Court is ordering Attorney General Leslie Rutledge to approve the ballot title on a minimum wage increase petition.
Our content partner Max Brantley with the Arkansas Blog (Arkansas Times) reports that the court granted attorney David Couch’s request for order requiring Rutledge to approve his proposed inititiated act to raise the minimum wage or submit a more acceptable version within three days.
Rutledge has refused 70 of 70 requests for ballot initiatives since 2016. She’s claimed they were unclear and said they were so unclear that she couldn’t fix them. She argued it was wholly in her discretion to decide on sufficiency of the ballot titles, Brantley says.
Couch, who’d submitted a proposal for an increase in the minimum wage virtually identical to one approved for the ballot and adopted a couple of years ago, argued that the state law required Rutledge to approve or improve ballot submissions within three days. To do otherwise, violates the Arkansas Constitution’s provision of initiative power to the people.
Couch’s motion was approved in an unsigned order. Justices Rhonda Wood and Shawn Womack, political allies as long-time Republicans of the attorney general, dissented from the order.
A constitutional amendment requires 84,859 signatures. An initiated act takes 67,887.
Couch would raise the minimum waged from $8.50 an hour to $12 in stages by 2022.