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Lawsuit Challenges State Minimum Wage Law

Ryan Heinsius

A group advocating for higher minimum wages in Arizona has filed a lawsuit against the state. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the suit seeks to overturn a law it says unconstitutionally takes power away from the local level.

The 2013 law passed by the state legislature prevents municipalities from establishing a minimum wage higher than what the state sets. But the Flagstaff Living Wage Coalition says that law is in direct conflict with a 2006 voter-passed ballot initiative giving individual cities the power to determine minimum wages higher than the state’s.

Eva Putzova is a member of the Flagstaff City Council and works with the Flagstaff Living Wage Coalition.

“I think it’s very important that we maintain local control over local issues. And in this case, clearly the legislators overstepped their authority and we want to make sure the legislation they passed is declared unconstitutional,” Putzova says.

Only a ballot measure can repeal a voter-passed initiative, and the state legislature needs a supermajority to make any changes.

Arizona’s current minimum wage is $8.05 per hour. 

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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