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Arizona Supreme Court to consider voter-approved measure to up minimum wage

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PHOENIX — The Arizona Supreme Court will consider whether Proposition 206, a voter-approved measure to increase the state’s minimum wage, violates the state’s constitution.

The court said oral arguments are scheduled to begin March 9.

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce — along with several other chambers and nonprofits — argued Prop. 206 violates the Arizona Constitution because it failed to identify a funding source for its budget implications.

“The organized-labor-affiliated backers of Prop. 206 sloppily constructed their initiative to exempt state employees, yet failed to properly account for those employers who hold state contracts,” Glenn Hamer, the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, said in a press release announcing the suit in December.

“This failure is poised to a blow a giant hole in the state budget.”

The suit specifically mentioned that people hired under state contracts to care for the developmentally disabled would not be allowed to continue their work without an infusion of funding.

Ballot measures are constitutionally required to identify a funding source if the state general fund could be affected.

Under Prop. 206, Arizona’s minimum wage increased to $10 per hour on Jan. 1. It will eventually raise to $12 per hour by 2020.

The measure also allows workers to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, depending on the size of the business, and broadens the conditions that allow for sick time to include mental or physical illness or needing to care for a family member.

Prop. 206 was approved by an 18 percent margin.

The suit also said the separate paid sick time provision violated a constitutional provision that only a single subject can be addressed in constitutional amendment.

The lawsuit named the state of Arizona, but the group that backed Prop. 206 is expected to defend it. The group’s attorney said both claims are without merit.

Incoming Arizona House Speaker J.D. Mesnard was also considering a lawsuit at one point.

“I really don’t know if there’s going to be a lawsuit,” said Mesnard, R-Chandler, in December. “I do know that people are talking about it because of the impact. I do know that regardless people are freaking out about it.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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