The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, Arizona Supreme Court declines to block Prop 206:
Without comment the state Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a last-ditch bid by the business community, with support from Gov. Doug Ducey and legislative leaders, to delay the effect of Proposition 206. That measure, approved earlier this year by voters on a 58-42 margin, raises the current minimum wage of $8.05 an hour to $10 at the beginning of 2017.
The same initiative eventually increases that to $12 an hour by 2020. And beginning July 1 it requires employers to provide workers with at least three days of paid sick leave each year.
Thursday’s ruling does not end the matter.
The justices have agreed to consider claims by initiative foes that the measure violates a constitutional provision that requires all ballot proposals that result in new state spending to have a dedicated revenue source. But that won’t occur until February, meaning the $10 requirement will remain in place at least until then — if not beyond.
Arizona court rules provide a multi-part test for judges to consider when deciding whether to enjoin a new law from taking effect. One factor is whether the challengers are likely to prevail after a full-blown court hearing.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Daniel Kiley, who last week turned down the request for an injunction, said in a 13-page ruling that the chamber and its allies had not met that burden. The Supreme Court, with Thursday’s order, essentially ratified his conclusion.
And there’s something else working against the opponents.
In arguing for the immediate injunction, chamber attorney Brett Johnson told the justices they should maintain the status quo until the legal arguments could be heard in February. That meant keeping the current wage law.
By February, however, the status quo will have changed: An estimated 770,000 Arizonans now earning less than $10 an hour will be getting that much in their paychecks.
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Thursday’s high court ruling came despite a last-minute bid by Gov. Doug Ducey, through his Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting, to delay the wage hike amid fiscal concerns.
Gubernatorial press aide Daniel Scarpinato said his boss believes AHCCCS can find the extra cash to increase provider rates for this rest of this budget year. But he said the Department of Economic Security will need an immediate infusion of extra cash to deal with its own contracts.
While the chamber’s legal arguments were based on the cost of Proposition 206 to state government, its larger concern always has been the effect on of a $10 minimum on businesses that will feel an immediate impact on their payroll costs.
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A couple of things will be different by the time the Supreme Court hears the case in February.
One is that Andrew Gould and John Lopez IV, the two newest justices selected by Ducey, will be on the court. While they were sworn in last week, neither has actually participated in any court activities yet.
Lopez, however, may opt to sit this one out. That is because until now he has worked for Attorney General Mark Brnovich whose office is defending the legality of Proposition 206 and specifically urged the high court not to block its implementation.
There is also the fact that Thursday’s order says the chamber’s request to block the wage hike was considered by all five of the current justices. And there was no indication any of them sided with initiative foes on the request.
So low-wage workers win a reprieve, they will receive the wage increase that the voters of Arizona decreed they should have as promised, beginning with the new year. Happy new year!
The Low Wages Party and its allies in the Chamber organizations have lost this round, and do not appear to stand on solid ground for the hearing scheduled in February.