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Arkansas Voters to Decide Voter ID, "Tort Reform" Amendments

by Kristin Higgins - March 30, 2017

At least two constitutional amendments will appear on Arkansas' 2018 ballot and it's possible legislators will add one more voter question to the ballot before they go home next month. 

Legislators in the House and Senate agreed to put on the ballot:
  • SJR8, an amendment that would establish a dollar limit for financial damages awarded in certain types of lawsuits, shift authority from the state supreme court to the legislature in setting court rules and procedures, and limit how much attorneys are paid in medical injury lawsuits. Supporters of these types of laws often use the phrase "tort reform" when talking about them.
  • HJR1016, an amendment that would require citizens present photo identification when voting. 
Voters will likely see campaigning for and against these two controversial proposals in coming months. Television commercials opposing SJR8 aired for days before legislators made their final vote to refer it.

Arkansas' constitution limits legislators to putting three constitutional amendments on the ballot. This leaves room for a third proposed amendment. One proposal still under consideration is HJR1003, which would make changes to the process that determines how constitutional amendments and acts are placed on the ballot. 

The proposal would require that three-fifiths of voters approve a ballot measure for it to pass. Currently, a measure needs only a majority vote, or 51 percent of the vote to pass. HJR1003 also would set a deadline for court challenges for ballot issues and increase the number of counties a campaign would need to qualify an issue for the ballot. 
House members approved adding the measure to the ballot and we expect a vote from the Senate any day now, as legislators anticipate winding down the session next week.
Find out more about potential ballot issues from citizens in our monthly ballot issue newsletter
Arkansas Constitution