Hutchinson opposes legislation scaling back wage hike

Hutchinson opposes legislation scaling back wage hike

Governor: 'This is an act of the will of the people'

March 14th, 2019 by Associated Press in Arkansas News

LITTLE ROCK—Arkansas' Republican governor on Wednesday said he opposes legislative efforts to scale back a minimum wage hike that voters approved last year, a day after a panel endorsed proposals adding exemptions to the increase.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said that he believes legislators shouldn't change the voter-backed initiative that gradually raises the state's minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2021. Arkansas' minimum wage increased from $8.50 an hour to $9.25 in January under the measure.

A House panel on Tuesday endorsed bills that would exempt small businesses, some nonprofits and teenagers from the minimum wage increase. That measure is pending before the House.

"This is an act of the will of the people of Arkansas and I do not believe it should be changed by legislative enactment I think the public has spoken on it and I think we need to abide by that," Hutchinson told members of the Political Animals Club, a group that meets to hear from elected officials and other political figures.

Shortly after Hutchinson's remarks, the state GOP also said it opposed changing the wage increase.

"We should only amend the spoken desire of the people when circumstances so demand," the party said in a statement. "Until then, we should follow the direction of the people and not attempt to alter it."

The opposition from Hutchinson and the party creates an uphill battle for the changes, which need two-thirds support to advance to the Senate. The sponsor of the legislation said she still planned to seek a vote on the bills.

"I realize the people voted, but we vote for things, we have laws and sometimes there are unintended consequences that need to be addressed," Republican Rep. Robin Lundstrum told reporters. Lundstrum said she planned to amend the bills to clarify that the wage would be frozen at $9.25 an hour for those exempted and wouldn't revert to the federal minimum wage.

The proposed changes had already drawn strong opposition from Democrats and groups that backed the wage hike last year, who called the bills an effort to thwart voters' will.

"Anybody who voted for it or supported it was going against the will of their own constituents," said David Couch, the attorney who authored the wage initiative.

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Texarkana Gazette Comments Policy

The Texarkana Gazette web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Gazette web sites and any content on the Gazette web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Gazette, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Gazette web sites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Texarkana Gazette
15 Pine Street
Texarkana, TX 75501
Phone: 903-794-3311
Email: webeditor@texarkanagazette.com