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Kristin HigginsPublic Policy CenterPhone: 501-671-2160Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
by Kristin Higgins - June 2, 2022
Citizen-led ballot issue groups have until June 8 to publish the title of their proposed
constitutional amendments in an Arkansas newspaper. This deadline, which comes with
a financial cost, has forced some groups to end their signature collecting efforts.
Arkansans for World Class Education announced June 1 they did not have enough voter
signatures to continue their efforts to put a constitutional amendment on the November
ballot to raise wages for teachers and increase state funding for students.
As of June 2, we could only find an advertisement for a ballot issue seeking to remove
Pope County as a casino gaming location. This advertisement was published May 22 in
the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Representatives for Arkansans for World Class Education told the newspaper June 1 that they had less than 25% of the signatures they needed for the Public Schools Amendment of 2022. To qualify for the November ballot, petitions need at least 89,151 voter signatures
collected from at least 15 counties.
The deadline to submit signatures is still a month away but ballot issue groups must
pay the cost to publish their ballot title this month. The Secretary of State's Office
publishes titles again if they qualify for the ballot, a cost ballot issue groups
must also cover.
In a post on Facebook, organizers said they didn't have enough canvassers to make
up for the deficit in signatures in a month. A 2021 state law stopped the practice of paying canvassers per signature and prohibited hiring people
from out-of-state to collect signatures. Paid canvassers must also undergo a background
check, another expense for campaigns. Unpaid volunteer canvassers can collect signatures
without background checks.
A federal lawsuit challenging Act 951 is still underway. Find the latest in that court
case at https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/59943222/liberty-initiative-fund-v-thurston/?order_by=desc.
Based on media reports and posts on social networking sites, we know backers of these
proposals (in addition to the education proposal) were actively collecting voter signatures
The Secretary of State's Office assigned ballot issue numbers to the three legislatively-referred
amendments on the November ballot. They are:
Issue 1 (SJR10) - A constitutional amendment to allow the General Assembly to convene in extraordinary
session upon the issuance of a joint written proclamation of the speaker of the House
of Representatives and the president pro tempore of the Senate or upon the submission
of a written proclamation containing the signatures of at least 2/3 of the members
of the House of Representatives and at least 2/3 of the members of the Senate to the
speaker of the House of Representatives and the president pro tempore of the Senate
requesting that the General Assembly convene in extraordinary session. Read the proposal
Issue 2 (HJR1005) - A constitutional amendment to reform certain measures presented to voters, to be known
as the "Constitutional Amendment and Ballot Initiative Reform Amendment." Read the proposal
Issue 3 (SJR14) - A constitutional amendment to create the "Arkansas Religious Freedom Amendment." Read the proposal
The Public Policy Center will publish a voter guide on all statewide constitutional
amendments in September. Printed versions will be available at county Extension offices in October.
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