Casino Backers Sue Over AG Rejections
Backers of a proposed constitutional amendment to allow casino gaming in Arkansas have sued the state's Attorney General after she again rejected their proposed ballot title and amendment.
With time running out to collect voter signatures for the proposal, attorney Alex Gray filed the lawsuitTuesday with the Arkansas Supreme Court on behalf of Driving Arkansas Forward.
Driving Arkansas Forward is petitioning the court to order Attorney General Leslie Rutledge to approve the group's casino ballot title and establish that the wording of the ballot title is "honest and impartial, free of any misleading tendency, and conveys an intelligible idea of the scope and significance of the proposed change in the law ..."
Gray has asked the Supreme Court to order Rutledge to certify the ballot proposal in three days or less.
Time is of the essence. June 6 is the deadline for ballot issue groups to publish the title of their proposed constitutional amendment in newspapers statewide. There also is the rapidly approaching July 6 deadline to submit voter signatures to the Secretary of State's Office.
Ballot groups can't collect any voter signatures until after the Attorney General approves their ballot title.
Driving Arkansas Forward has to collect 84,859 signatures from registered voters in Arkansas. Most ballot initiative groups collect thousands more signatures to make up for flawed signatures found during the Secretary of State's review process.
Rutledge has rejected Driving Arkansas Forward's proposal four times, and has rejected dozens of other proposals from groups seeking a spot on the November ballot. A recreational marijuana proposal has been rejected more than 10 times. The only group cleared to collect voter signatures is the Arkansas Term Limits Amendment and that approval happened in October 2016.
In a statement to Talk Business and Politics on Tuesday, Rutledge defended her rejections.
"In recent years, the Arkansas Supreme Court has set a very high standard for certifying a ballot proposal. As Attorney General, I have a responsibility to follow those standards to ensure that voters fully understand the issue presented on the ballot and what exactly a 'for' or 'against' vote means," she told the news outlet.
Voters in November will decide the fate of two constitutional amendments proposed by the legislature, Issue 1 (SJR8) and Issue 2 (HJR1016).
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The Public Policy Center has published nonpartisan fact sheets on Arkansas' statewide ballot issues since 2004. We welcome your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and look for our posts with the hashtag #ARballot .