Flagstaff Group's Lawsuit Challenges Arizona Minimum Wage

By Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services
Published: Monday, April 13, 2015 - 10:19am
Updated: Tuesday, April 14, 2015 - 1:10pm
(Photo by Sky Schaudt - KJZZ)
Arizona's current minimum wage at $8.05 an hour.

A new lawsuit by a Flagstaff group could pave the way to Arizona cities adopting their own "living wage" laws.

A number of cities across the United States have adopted their own living wage laws, places as diverse as San Francisco and Las Cruces. Fearing cities here were next, restaurant owners convinced lawmakers two years ago to specifically forbid cities from imposing their own wage requirements above and beyond what is required under a 2006 voter-approved Arizona law. That puts Arizona's current minimum wage at $8.05 an hour.

But attorney Mik Jordahl pointed out that initiative specifically allows cities to have wages higher than that. Because it was passed by voters, Jordahl wants a judge to rule the 2013 law is legally void.

Eva Putzova, one of the leaders of the Flagstaff effort, dismissed claims by the hospitality industry that wages will kill tourism and the economy.

"You will put more money into people's pockets. They will be able to go and enjoy some of the amenities Flagstaff has, the restaurants. They will be able to eat out," Putzova said.

Generally speaking, when people at the lower end of the economic spectrum get more money, they tend to spend it, she said. "They spend money locally. So it goes back to the community," Putzova said.

No decision has been made whether to see a council vote or citizen's initiative if the challengers win the lawsuit.

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