A lawsuit to boot the minimum wage initiative from the November ballot has been filed on behalf of Jackson T. Stephens, son of Stephens Inc. co-founder Jack Stephens and a major contributor to the conservative Club for Growth.
The legal action names “Jackson Thomas Stevens” as the plaintiff and Secretary of State Mark Martin as the defendant. Attorney David Sterling, who unsuccessfully ran for the Republican Attorney General nomination earlier this year, is representing Stephens and confirms that he is the plaintiff.
The lawsuit challenges the minimum wage proposal on two fronts.
First, the suit asks the Arkansas Supreme Court to appoint a special master to review the “sufficiency of the signatures” collected to qualify the initiative for the ballot. Supporters turned in more than 130,000 signatures in their effort and exceeded the 62,507 signature threshold needed to be placed on the November 4th ballot.
The “Act to Increase the Arkansas Minimum Wage” would incrementally raise the state’s minimum wage to $8.50 per hour by 2017.
Secondly, the lawsuit mirrors a similar legal challenge to another ballot measure that would expand alcohol sales. Stephens’ lawsuit contends that signatures for the minimum wage proposal should have been turned in by July 4, 2014 to meet a constitutional deadline requirement.
Secretary of State Martin’s office extended that deadline to July 7, 2014 as the Fourth of July holiday fell on a Friday and resulted in the state office being closed until the following Monday.
Stephen Copley, with Give Arkansas A Raise Now, the group pushing the minimum wage ballot measure, said his group will vigorously fight the lawsuit.
“It is not disputed that 90,000 registered voters signed the petition and were validated by the Secretary of State’s office and we will do everything we can to see that the people of Arkansas get to vote to give hard working Arkansans a raise,” said Copley.