AG Certifies Four Ballot Titles – Now What?
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge approved the ballot titles of two competing casino proposals on Wednesday as well as an act to increase the state’s minimum wage and a proposal seeking to change how legislative districts are created in Arkansas.
The four groups now have until July 6 to collect signatures from registered voters. They must also publish their ballot issue title in a newspaper by June 6 to move forward.
The groups could not collect signatures until after Rutledge certified their proposals. She has rejected every proposal submitted to her since October 2016.
Her approval Wednesday night came after the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled in favor of David Couch, whose minimum wage proposal was similar to one approved by voters in 2014. Rutledge had rejected Couch's 2018 proposal saying some of the language was ambiguous.
“I have issued opinions on ballot proposals based on standards set forth in statutes as well as case law of the Arkansas Supreme Court,” Rutledge said in a news release to media. “However, the Arkansas Supreme Court has once again muddied the waters on these standards by offering no insight in its decision requiring me to certify or substitute language of a ballot title that I had previously rejected.”
After the court’s ruling, Rutledge approved Couch’s proposal as well as three more. (She rejected a proposed constitutional amendment seeking to legalize marijuana for issues with the wording).
“In light of the Arkansas Supreme Court’s failure to put forth clear standards, I am certifying these proposals in an exercise of caution to ensure Arkansans are given an opportunity to put these measures on the ballot,” she said.
What are the four proposals?
The three groups proposing constitutional amendments will need to collect 84,859 voter signatures by July 6. Ballot issue groups try to collect more than what is required because often signatures are tossed out for a variety of reasons.
The one group seeking an increase to the Arkansas minimum wage would need to collect 67,887 signatures from voters by July 6 because it is a proposed state law and not an amendment to the Arkansas Constitution.
Supporters of the The Arkansas Term Limits Amendment, which was approved in October 2016, have been collecting voter signatures across the state. In a recent interview, supporters said they had more than 70,000 signatures.
If all proposals that were certified collect enough signatures, voters would have seven proposals to vote on in November.
The Arkansas Secretary of State's Office is responsible for reviewing the voter signatures and determining whether a proposal has enough to appear on the ballot.
It's also likely lawsuits will be filed challenging some of the proposals, which may result in the Arkansas Supreme Court knocking them off the ballot ahead of Election Day.
Already on the ballot
Voters in November will decide the fate of two constitutional amendments proposed by the legislature, Issue 1 (SJR8) and Issue 2 (HJR1016). These issues did not have to be reviewed by the Attorney General to be put on the ballot.
* This proposal was updated May 24 to reflect a newer version approved that corrected a typo in the popular name title.