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Ballot Issues

The Ninetieth General Assembly has referred three items to the 2016 ballot.

Legislators can refer up to three ballot issues to voters each election cycle.The General Assembly settled on these three.
 
HJR 1027 will allow the General Assembly to draft laws that considered a candidate elected if only one qualified candidate files for office. It would increase the terms of county elected officials from 2 to 4 years. HJR 1027 redefines "infamous crime" for the purposes of election qualifications.
 
SJR 3 will allow the Governor to retain his or her power when out of state.
 
SJR 16 will increase the scope of Amendment 82 for economic development.
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.
University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture has an excellent e-newsletter for citizens who want to stay updated on ballot issues. They can be reached by email at Public Policy Center at 501-671-2160. You can also contact the Center by e-mailing publicpolicycenter@uaex.edu. 

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:

June 11, 2015 - The Campaign Finance Act of 2016 - A proposed state law that would create campaign spending disclosure requirements and instruct the state to ratify an amendment to the U.S. Constitution regarding campaign contributions was certified for signature gathering. However, Opinion No. 2015-059 noted that the proposed ballot title "requires the voter to be an expert in campaign-finance regulation to understand what he or she is being asked to approve" and the Attorney General offered a longer ballot title that explained the six potential changes. Paul Spencer, chairman of the Regnat Populus Ballot Question Committee, submitted the measure.

April 23, 2015 - A Referendum to Approve or Reject the Arkansas Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act - A proposed referendum to approve or reject the act that prohibits a county or city from adopting or enforcing an ordinance, resolution, rule or policy that creates a protected class of people or prohibits discrimination on a basis not in state law was certified for signature gathering, according to Opinion No. 2015-036. David Couch of Little Rock submitted the measure.

March 31, 2015 - An Act Amending The Arkansas Civil Rights Act of 1993 - A proposal to amend state law to include sexual orientation and gender identity to groups protected from discrimination under the Arkansas Civil Rights Act of 1993 was certified for signature gathering, according to Opinion No. 2015-029. Jack Michael Weir III of Little Rock submitted the measure.

March 30, 2015 - An Act Concerning Local Option (Wet-Dry) Elections - A proposal to reduce the number of signatures required to call a local option (wet-dry) election from 38 percent of qualified electors to 20 percent of qualified electors was certified for signature gathering, according to Opinion No. 2015-026. David Couch of Little Rock submitted the measure.

Feb. 3, 2015 - The Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Amendment - A constitutional amendment to legalize the manufacturing and sale of alcohol statewide was certified for signature gathering, according to Opinion No. 2015-12. David Couch of Little Rock submitted the measure.

Nov. 3, 2014 - The Arkansas Hemp and Marijuana Amendment - A constitutional amendment to legalize the cultivation, production, distribution, sale, purchase, possession and use of the cannabis plant in Arkansas was certified for signature gathering, according to Opinion No. 2014-119. Mary L. Berry of Summit submitted the measure.

Aug. 5, 2014 - The Arkansas Hemp and Cannabis Amendment - A constitutional amendment to legalize the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, sale, possession and use of the cannabis plant in Arkansas was certified for signature gathering. Opinion No. 2014-079 said the proposed constitutional amendment was identical to a previously approved measure. Frederick W. Porter of Hot Springs submitted the measure.
 
Aug. 14, 2014 - The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act - A ballot measure to legalize the use of medical marijuana, and a system for growing and selling medical marijuana was certified for signature gathering. The ballot measure was similar to a recent proposal that did not receive enough signatures for the 2014 ballot. In Opinion No. 2014-086, the Attorney General cautioned the group that "according to my experience there is a direct correlation between the length and complexity of initiated acts and their susceptibility to a successful ballot title challenge." Melissa Fults, campaign director of Arkansans for Compassionate Care 2016, submitted the measure.  


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