The sponsor of a bill that aimed to reduce the minimum wage for young, part-time workers said he’s disappointed that the Senate effectively killed his legislation by requiring a three-fourths vote for its passage.
House Bill 2523 sought to reduce the state’s minimum wage, which is $11 now and will rise to $12 in 2020, to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour for anyone who is under 22 years of age and works no more than 20 hours a week.
Legislative attorneys and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office concluded that, because voters approved a $12 minimum in 2016, the bill is subject to the Voter Protection Act. That act, also known as Proposition 105, requires a three-fourths vote in the Legislature to amend a voter-approved law. Any changes must also further the intent of the voters.
In response to those legal opinions, the Senate Rules Committee on Monday amended the bill to include a clause stating that it must comply with the Voter Protection Act. Given that Democratic lawmakers are unanimously opposed to the bill, HB2523 is effectively dead.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Travis Grantham, said other attorneys disagree. The Gilbert Republican is disappointed that HB2523 won’t get its day in court.
“I don’t disagree that the attorneys’ opinions are valuable. It’s just that, in the legislative process, I feel that we should be able to advance legislation. And if something has to be heard in court, that’s really where that battle should play out,” Grantham said on Tuesday.
Despite the several legal opinions on HB2523 and the Voter Protection Act, Grantham said he didn’t think it would be a waste of taxpayer money to defend the bill in court. He argued that the new minimum wage, which was enacted through Proposition 206 in 2016, makes it more difficult for young people to get part-time jobs. His bill, he said, would help alleviate that problem.
“Oftentimes, you have to take that chance, take the risk and argue that out in the legal system to find out which side is right,” Grantham said. “We do a lot of things here that end up in court. They’re not all wastes. Some are good for the people.”