In November 2018, Arkansans decided to raise the state's minimum wage. Again. Voters did this in spite of a parade of people warning that this wasn't the most sound of economic decisions. But Arkansas voters are headstrong. They'll do what they please, thank you. Which is how it works in democracy, a theory of government that suggests the people know what they want, and deserve to get it, good and hard. (Mencken, Henry Louis.)
And yet, some lawmakers are determined to chip away at the decision made by voters. On Tuesday night, a House committee cleared two bills that would create exceptions to the minimum wage law that voters chose to enact. The papers say the bills would exempt small businesses, workers ages 16-19 and nonprofit organizations with annual budgets of less than $1 million from the new minimum wage law.
Let's review the text of the minimum wage ballot measure Arkansans approved with a vote of 68 percent to 32 percent in November. Here's the full title:
"An act to amend the Arkansas code concerning the state minimum wage; the act would raise the current state minimum wage from eight dollars and fifty cents ($8.50) per hour to nine dollars and twenty-five cents ($9.25) per hour on January 1, 2019, to ten dollars ($10.00) per hour on January 1, 2020, and to eleven dollars ($11.00) per hour on January 1, 2021."
We've read through this title multiple times and can't find any text that indicates voters wanted exemptions to the law for minors, felons or certain nonprofits. An overwhelming number of Arkansans wanted the minimum wage increase to apply to everyone.
Chipping away at what voters enacted isn't democracy. Rather, it is the denial of.
Editorial on 03/15/2019
Print Headline: Failure to communicate