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Ballot Issues

The Eighty-Ninth General Assembly has referred three items to the 2014 ballot. Farm Bureau does not yet have a position on any of these specific issues.

Legislators can refer up to three ballot issues to voters each election cycle. Initially, they had 37 different proposals to consider. The General Assembly settled on these three.

HJR 1009 - The Arkansas Elected Officials Ethics, Transparency, and Financial Reform Amendment of 2014. This 21-page proposal involves three different issues. 1) It would allow legislators to serve 16 years total in the House or Senate, whereas they are now limited to specific number of years in each chamber. 2) It would create an independent commission to set salaries of state elected officials. The commission would be appointed by certain legislators. 3) It would place limits on lobbying by former legislators and set limits on campaign donations and gifts from corporations and lobbyists.This issue is the most complex of the three and voters will have to carefully review it before making their decision.

Summary of HJR 1009 and how it could alter current law

SJR 7 - An Amendment Concerning the Review and Approval of Administrative Rules by a Legislative Committee. This proposal would give legislative committees prior review of new state agency rules before they go into effect.

Summary of SJR 7 and how it could alter current law

SJR 16 - An Amendment Concerning Initiative and Referendum. The proposal would establish a signature threshold for ballot issue groups to meet if they want more time to collect additional signatures after turning in petitions to the Secretary of State. Petitions would need to contain at least 75 percent of valid signatures for a group to receive more time. Groups are usually given 30 additional days after submitting their original petitions to gather more signatures in case they fall short on the required number to place an issue on the ballot. (A previous version of this bill set the threshold at 90 percent.)

Summary of SJR 16 and how it could alter current law

Arkansas citizens may initiate laws for the state. Those laws must be approved by the voters of the state at a General Election
Arkansas is one of 18 states that allow voters to propose initiatives. Petitioners must receive approval from the Attorney General on their proposed ballot title before gathering signatures from registered voters.

Depending on the proposed law, a certain number of signatures are required. The number of signatures required depends on if the proposed law is just a regular law or a constitutional amendment. Constitutional Amendments require 78,133 signatures- (Included in that number, there must be sufficient signatures from 15 different counties.) Initiated Act require 62,507 signatures - (Included in that number, there must be sufficient signatures from 15 different counties.) Those thresholds are based on the number of voters in the last Governor's election and vary slightly from election to election.

July 7, 2014 - Deadline for ballot issue groups to submit signatures to Secretary of State's Office
Aug. 21, 2014 - Deadline for Secretary of State's Office to certify ballot issues for the 2014 ballot  
Nov. 4, 2014 - Election Day

Several items have been approved to gather signatures by the Attorney General's office. That approval is not an endorsement of the issue but simply a certification that the language is clear and voters can understand what they are voting on in the election. Many items do make the ballot but many more are certified to gather signatures and never even begin the process. It usually requires an organized and committed coalition to become ballot eligible. Few issues approved for signature after the primary are able to gather the necessary signatures.

Certified Measures - Approved for signature gathering:

Jan. 4, 2014 - A ballot question committee received approval for signature gathering for its proposal to change state law to raise the state's minimum wage. Opinion No. 2013-156 certified An Act to Increase the Arkansas Minimum Wage submitted by Stephen Copley of Little Rock who is chairman of Give Arkansas A Raise Now.

Nov. 7, 2013 -  A proposed amendment that would recognize marriage being between two people regardless of gender, and would repeal an existing amendment banning same sex marriage was approved. Opinion No. 2013-135 certified the measure submitted by Jack Weir III of Maumelle. Weir submitted the measure as "The Arkansas Marriage Amendment," although the Attorney General's office offered a "more correct name" of "The Arkansas Same-Sex Marriage Amendment."

Oct. 3, 2013 - Arkansans for Compassionate Care's proposed ballot issue seeking to make the medical use and sale of marijuana legal was approved for signature gathering. Opinion No. 2013-118 certified "The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act," which was submitted by Melissa Fults, Campaign Director for Arkansans for Compassionate Care, of Hensley.

Sept. 19, 2013 - A proposed constitutional amendment seeking to repeal an existing amendment on same-sex marriage was certified. Opinion No. 2013-114 certified the measure "Repeal of the Arkansas Marriage Amendment." The proposal was submitted by Christina Harrison, founder of Arkansans for Equality, of Little Rock. Arkansans approved the original amendment in 2004 with 75 percent of the vote in favor.

Sept. 16, 2013 - A proposed constitutional amendment to change the terms of county officials from two years to four years was certified. Opinion No. 2013-110 certified the ballot title, "Four Year Terms of Office For Elected County Officials, Justices of the Peace, and Constables." David Dinwiddie of Pine Bluff submitted the ballot issue.  

Aug. 6, 2013 - Arkansans for Responsible Medicine saw their proposed ballot issue seeking to make the medical use and sale of marijuana legal approved for signature gathering. Opinion No. 2013-081 said the popular name and ballot title for the "Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act" are "sufficient as proposed." The proposed ballot issue was submitted by David Couch, representing Arkansans for Responsible Medicine.

Jan. 1, 2013 - In Opinion No. 2012-148, the Attorney General approved the popular name and ballot title submitted by the Regnat Populus ballot question committee. The committee submitted "The Campaign Finance and Lobbying Act of 2014."

The Public Policy Center of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture tracks these ballot items closely. They also do a balanced review of each issue that reaches the ballot. Those reviews can be found at this link.

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