Ballot Issue Groups Collecting Signatures After AG Certifies Proposals
It's been a whirlwind of a month. The Arkansas Attorney General certified four potential ballot measures for the November ballot in response to a lawsuit. Three of the sponsors then published their ballot titles in a newspaper by June 6 as required.
Now, sponsors are collecting thousands of voter signatures to overcome the last but biggest hurdle: actually qualifying for the ballot.
Signatures are due by July 6 to the Arkansas Secretary of State's Office for counting. The Secretary of State has until Aug. 23 to send the official November ballot to counties across the state.
What are the three proposals?
- An Act to Increase the Arkansas Minimum Wage submitted by David Couch of Little Rock.
- An Amendment to Require Four Licenses to be Issued for Casino Gaming at Casinos, One Each in Crittenden (to Southland Racing Corporation), Garland (to Oaklawn Jockey Club, Inc.) Pope, and Jefferson Counties submitted by Alex Gray of Little Rock.
- An Amendment to Allow Four Casinos to Operate in Arkansas, One Each in the Following Counties: Benton County, Operated by Benton County Gaming, LLC; Boone County, Operated by Arkansas Gaming and Resorts, LLC; Miller County, Operated by Miller County Gaming LLC; and Pulaski County, Operated by Pulaski County Gaming, LLC submitted by Randall Bynum of Little Rock.
Couch will need to collect signatures from at least 67,887 voters to qualify the minimum wage proposal for the ballot. (This number represents 8 percent of the number of people who voted for governor in the 2014 election).
Sponsors of the two proposed constitutional amendments will need at least 84,859 voter signatures for their competing casino proposals. (This represents 10 percent of people who voted in the governor's race).
Couch also sponsored a fourth proposal to change how Arkansas legislative boundaries are drawn but said he would wait for the 2020 ballot. There would be plenty of time to seek a redistricting amendment through the initiative process by the time the 2020 Census is completed, he said. Couch expected to resubmit the updated proposal for certification soon.
Supporters of The Arkansas Term Limits Amendment have been collecting signatures since wording of the measure was approved in October 2016. In a recent Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article, supporters said they had more than 70,000 signatures.
How did we get here?
Ballot issue groups have been critical of the attorney general, who rejected dozens of proposed ballot measures since October 2016.
The Supreme Court rejected one lawsuit seeking to compel Attorney General Leslie Rutledge to certify a measure, but ruled in favor of a second lawsuit involving an act increasing the state's minimum wage. The proposal mirrored one that voters approved in 2014.
Rutledge certified the act as required and then certified the three additional proposals. She rejected a fourth proposal due to problems with the wording.
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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.