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Arizona judge rules in favor of minimum wage initiative

(AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)

PHOENIX — A Superior Court ruled to allow the campaign of bringing an initiative regarding raising the minimum wage in Arizona to move forward.

The Arizona Healthy Working Families Initiative aims to not only raise the state’s minimum wage from $8.05 per hour to $12 an hour by 2020, but also to provide earned paid sick days, with hopes to be on the ballot in November.

The judge rejected a legal challenge Friday brought forward by the Arizona Restaurant Association in its attempt to block the initiative from appearing on the ballot.

“We are pleased by (Friday’s) court ruling,” campaign chairman Tomas Robles said. “It’s a big victory for direct democracy and a step in the right direction for Arizona.

“We are looking forward to taking this intiative to the voters, but it will be difficult to look past the astonishing attacks made by the opposition to disempower voters and hard working families. This initiative is about giving our fellow citizens a chance to empower themselves. Who cannot see the positive in that?”

Friday’s ruling from Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Joshua Rogers means the wage boost will be on the November ballot barring a successful appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court.

The Secretary of State is finalizing its signature review to see if the measure makes the ballot, while the Arizona Healthy Working Families said they submitted more than 270,000 signatures for its initiative for verification in early July.

On Friday, Rogers ruled the Arizona Restaurant Association filed its challenge too late and dismissed the case.

The association alleged many of the signatures were invalid because signature-gatherers weren’t qualified.

Rogers ruled that indeed scores of people who collected signatures didn’t qualify and he would have thrown out their petition sheets. But they stand because the lawsuit was filed too late.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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