BY STATE REPRESENTATIVE NATE BELL –
2014 General Election voters will be asked to decide if the Arkansas state minimum wage should be increased.
Initiative 5 is one of two citizen led initiatives to gather enough verified signatures to be placed on the November ballot.
This week I will do my best to offer a short summary of what this ballot measure contains. Next week I plan to address the other initiative which allows for the statewide sale of alcohol.
The state minimum wage is currently $6.25 an hour. All employers with four or more employees must pay at least that amount. If the employer has more than $500,000 in gross annual revenue, they must pay the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Certain other situations, such as businesses dealing in interstate commerce, may also require an employer to pay the federal minimum wage.
Initiative 5 proposes a three-step increase in the state’s minimum wage to $7.50 effective January 1, 2015, to $8 effective January 1, 2016, and to $8.50 effective January 1, 2017. There are no reliable statistics to indicate how many Arkansans currently earn a wage below the federal minimum but the nationwide number is placed at around 2 million.
I encourage you to do your own research on this topic before heading to the polls and to make an informed decision.
The University of Arkansas public policy center has excellent unbiased information available on all of the ballot questions. http://www.uaex.edu/business-communities/voter-education/state-ballot-issues.aspx
You can find the official ballot title and description at the Secretary of State’s website www.sos.arkansas.gov.
Please remember that the last day to register to vote is October 6th. Early voting begins October 20 and Election Day is November 4.