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The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Alcohol ballot initiative makes initial goal

  • On Wednesday, Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin announced the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Amendment met the initial signature requirement to appear on the November ballot.
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  • On Wednesday, Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin announced the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Amendment met the initial signature requirement to appear on the November ballot.  The amendment to the Arkansas Constitution, if passed, will make alcohol sales legal in all Arkansas counties. 
     
    According to the Secretary of State’s Office, the initiative needed 78,133 signatures of registered voters to meet the initial threshold.  Organizers of the amendment turned in over 84,000 signatures, giving them 30 more days to gather more signatures to compensate for any that may be ruled invalid from the initial list.  If these numbers hold, the measure will be placed on the November ballot to be decided by voters statewide.
     
    Ads both for and against the measure have flooded TV, radio, and newspapers across the state as each side attempts to persuade the public.  Those against the initiative are often citing county self-determination and accusing outside groups of trying to influence local affairs.  Those in support of the measure argue that inconsistent liquor laws across Arkansas counties creates undue hardship on businesses and residents.  They also argue that local economies in dry counties are losing out on much revenue, as those residents have to travel for miles to purchase alcohol or, in many cases, eat at a restaurant that can legally serve it.  In regards to Cleburne County, many argue that our tourism industry would greatly improve as many visitors opt for other lakes in wet counties around the state.
     
    In related news, the Secretary of State also reported that the initiative to legalize medical marijuana and an initiative to legalize recreational use of marijuana failed to get enough signatures to be on the ballot this November.
     
    An amendment to raise the Arkansas minimum wage from $6.25/hour to $8.50/hr by 2017 may be on the ballot as well.  Organizers of that initiative needed 62, 507 signatures to meet the initial requirements and turned in 77, 288. 
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