UACES Facebook Citizen Group Seeks Referendum on Arkansas LEARNS
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Citizen Group Seeks Referendum on Arkansas LEARNS

by Kristin Higgins - April 19, 2023

A citizen-initiative group wants voters to decide whether the Arkansas LEARNS education bill, or Act 237, should go into effect. This type of ballot measure is called a referendum.

Citizens for Arkansas Public Education and Students (CAPES) submitted a ballot title on April 10 to the Arkansas Attorney General's Office for review. The group also submitted the required Ballot Question Committee Statement of Organization paperwork with the Arkansas Ethics Commission.
Referendum groups must act quickly. They have 90 days after the official end of the legislative session to collect and submit voter signatures to the Secretary of State's Office. Referendums have a lower voter signature threshold than constitutional amendments and state laws. CAPES will need to collect voter signatures equal to 6% of the number of people who voted in the last governor's race, or 54,422 valid signatures in this case.
The group expects to hold simultaneous rallies across the state on April 27 in six locations to announce their campaign. Those locations are Arkadelphia, Fayetteville, Jonesboro, Little Rock, Pine Bluff, and West Memphis.
If approved by the Attorney General's Office, the referendum would be the first to face a new 50-county rule passed by the legislature. Previously, ballot issue groups needed to collect voter signatures from at least 15 counties. Legislators passed Act 236, which increased the number to 50 counties. A lawsuit over the constitutionality of Act 236 has yet to have its first day in court.
The Attorney General's Office has 10 business days to respond, and is expected to issue its formal opinion on the group's ballot title by April 24.