LITTLE ROCK — Arkansans voted Tuesday to give minimum-wage workers a raise.

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansans voted Tuesday to give minimum-wage workers a raise.


The state’s voters approved Issue No. 5, an initiated act to raise the state minimum wage gradually from $6.25 an hour to $8.50 an hour by 2017.


"We’re excited that hard-working Arkansans will be able to get a raise in their minimum wages come Jan. 1," said Steve Copley, chairman of Give Arkansas a Raise Now, the group that sponsored the measure.


Copley said he believed the issue passed because "folks all over Arkansas know somebody that’s on minimum wage and how they struggle — a family member, a next-door neighbor, a friend."


The measure drew no organized opposition.


Arkansas is one of four states that have a minimum wage lower than the federal level of $7.25 an hour. State businesses with annual revenue of less than $500,000 are allowed to pay workers less than the federal minimum wage, with some exceptions.


As of 11:15 p.m., the measure had been favored by 66 percent of voters, according to unofficial and incomplete election returns from the secretary of state’s office.


Voters rejected Issue No. 4, a proposal to amend the state constitution to make alcohol sales legal in all 75 Arkansas counties. The vote count at 11:15 p.m. was 43 percent for and 57 percent against.


David Couch, chairman of Let Arkansas Decide, the measure’s sponsor, said he was disappointed by the results but would ask the state Legislature next year to loosen the requirements to place a county wet/dry election on the ballot.


Currently, liquor stores cannot legally operate in 37 counties. Opposition to the measure received funding from some Arkansas liquor stores.


Voters approved Issue No. 1, a proposal to amend the state constitution to allow the Legislature to pass a law giving it authority to approve or disapprove proposed administrative rules of state agencies. Currently, the Legislature reviews proposed rules but does not have authority to approve or disapprove them.


By 11:15 p.m., the vote was 59 percent in favor and 41 percent against.


Voters appeared to favor Issue No. 2, a proposal to amend the state constitution to impose stricter requirements on groups gathering signatures in support of statewide ballot measures. By 11:15 p.m. the measure had garnered 54 percent of votes for it and 46 percent against it.


Under the amendment, a group will have to submit to the secretary of state’s office at least 75 percent of the total number of signatures, and at least 75 percent of the required number of voters that must be collected from each of at least 15 counties, to qualify for a period to collect additional signatures.


Issue No. 3, to amend the state constitution to impose ethics restrictions on elected officials and expand legislative term limits, had garnered 52 percent of votes in favor of it and 48 percent against it by 11:15 p.m. The Associated Press declared the measure approved.


The measure would prohibit legislators and constitutional officers from accepting gifts from lobbyists, with some exceptions; create a commission of non-legislators to set the salaries of legislators, constitutional officers and judges; prohibit candidates for public office from accepting campaign contributions from corporations; increase the period that an ex-legislator must wait before registering as a lobbyist from one years after leaving office to two years; and allow a legislator to serve up to 16 years in either chamber instead of the current limit of three two-year terms in the House and two four-year terms in the Senate.