Prop. 202, the minimum wage initiative, would raise the statewide minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.75 per hour. Proponents don't talk much about the other provisions in the proposition, which is understandable. There's some pretty nasty stuff in the fine print.
This proposition exemplifies an unfortunate new trend in Arizona politics. Initiative writers with a popular cause have come to realize they can include stealth provisions in their text that will escape public notice - until the election is over and it's too late.
Proponents claim, for example, that small businesses are excluded from the wage mandate. But according to a legal analysis by Sherman & Howard LLC, the initiative exempts no one. Small businesses, generally agreed to be most likely to suffer economic damage from minimum wage legislation, actually get no protection at all.
The "employers" affected by this proposal may not be only businesses. The law also applies to "individuals" or other "entity acting in the interest of an employer." So if you hire people to help with yard work or employ a nanny, you could be personally liable under this law.
There's more, but you get the idea. With so many measures on the ballot this year, it's important for Arizonans to take the time to understand the fine print.
Tom Patterson is chairman of the Goldwater Institute and a former state senator. A longer version of this article originally appeared in the East Valley Tribune. The Goldwater Institute does not support or oppose specific legislation, but adheres to its educational mission to help policymakers and citizens better understand the consequences of government policies.