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Meyer v. State

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

February 5, 2019

ERIC MEYER, LELA ALSTON, RICHARD C. ANDRADE, REGINALD BOLDING JR., MARK A. CARDENAS, KEN CLARK, DIEGO ESPINOZA, CHARLENE R. FERNANDEZ, RANDALL FRIES, ROSANNA GABALDON, SALLY ANN GONZALES, ALBERT HALE, MATTHEW A. KOPEC, JOHNATHAN R. LARKIN, STEFANIE MACH, JUAN JOSE MENDEZ, LISA A. OTONDO, CELESTE PLUMLEE, REBECCA RIOS, MACARIO SALDATE, CECI VELASQEZ, AND BRUCE WHEELER, members of the Arizona State House of Representatives; KATIE HOBBS, DAVID BRADLEY, OLIVIA CAJERO BEDFORD, LUPE CONTRERAS, ANDREA DALESSANDRO, STEVE FARLEY, BARBARA MCGUIRE, ROBERT MEZA, CATHERINE MIRANDA, and MARTIN QUEZADA, members of the Arizona State Senate, Plaintiffs/Appellees,
v.
STATE OF ARIZONA, a body politic, Defendant/Appellant.

          Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No. CV 2016-092409 The Honorable Joshua D. Rogers, Judge.

          Arizona Attorney General's Office, Phoenix By Rusty D. Crandell Counsel for Defendant/Appellant

          Torres Law Group, Tempe By Israel G. Torres; James E. Barton, II; Sama John Golestan Counsel for Plaintiffs/Appellees

          Presiding Judge Jennifer B. Campbell delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Judge Paul J. McMurdie and Judge Kent E. Cattani joined.

          OPINION

          CAMPBELL, JUDGE.

         ¶1 The State appeals the superior court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Appellees, members of the Arizona House of Representatives and Senate who voted against passage of House Bill ("H.B.") 2579 (collectively, the "Legislators"), finding Arizona Revised Statutes ("A.R.S.") section 23-204, as amended by H.B. 2579, unconstitutional because it violates the Voter Protection Act ("VPA"). For the following reasons, we affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶2 In 2006, Arizona voters passed Proposition 202, an initiative measure commonly referred to as the "Raise the Minimum Wage for Working Arizonans Act" ("Minimum Wage Act" or "Act"). The Minimum Wage Act is codified at A.R.S. §§ 23-362, -363, and -364. The central provision at issue in this appeal falls under the enforcement provision, A.R.S. § 23-364, which empowers a county, city, or town to "regulate minimum wages and benefits within its geographic boundaries" as long as it does "not provide for a minimum wage lower than that prescribed in this article." A.R.S. § 23-364(I) (emphasis added). It goes on to state, "[t]his article . . . shall not limit the authority of the legislature or any other body to adopt any law or policy that requires payment of higher or supplemental wages or benefits, or that extends such protections to employers or employees not covered by this article." Id. (emphasis added).

         ¶3 In May 2016, the legislature adopted H.B. 2579, which amended A.R.S. § 23-204 and preempted the field of nonwage benefits, removing from cities and towns the power to regulate nonwage benefits. H.B. 2579 passed with majority votes in both the House and Senate, but neither chamber received a three-fourths' majority vote. The relevant language of the bill provides:

The regulation of employee benefits, including nonwage compensation, paid and unpaid leave and other absences, meal breaks and rest periods, is of statewide concern. The regulation of nonwage employee benefits pursuant to this chapter and federal law is not subject to further regulation by a city, town or other political subdivision of this state.

A.R.S. § 23-204(A).

         ¶4 In June 2016, the plaintiffs sued the State in the superior court seeking declaratory relief, asking H.B. 2579 be found unconstitutional because it violated the VPA and the home-rule provision of the Arizona Constitution. The plaintiffs were comprised of three groups: (1) a labor union, United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 99 ("UFCW"); (2) five individual city councilmembers from three Arizona cities ("Councilmembers"); and (3) the Legislators who voted against H.B. 2579. The State moved to dismiss the home-rule claims by all three groups of plaintiffs and moved to dismiss the VPA claims by UFCW and the Councilmembers only. The superior court granted the State's motion to dismiss in full, leaving only the Legislators' VPA claim.

         ¶5 The State and Legislators filed cross-motions for summary judgment on the VPA claim. After briefing and oral argument, the court granted the Legislators' motion for summary judgment, ruling that H.B. 2579 impliedly repealed a portion of the Minimum Wage Act and therefore violated the VPA. The court also awarded the Legislators all attorney fees ...


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