There are three proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot in the general election.
Issues 2 and 3 are still being challenged in court. Issue 1 was the only one of the six proposed issues (three legislative-initiated, three citizen-initiated) that was not challenged in court. All three citizen-initiated issues were rejected and will not appear on the ballot. Issues 2 and 3 will appear on the ballot; however, if they are struck down, the votes on those Issues will not be counted.
The Arkansas State Legislature is allowed to refer up to three constitutional amendments to the ballot for each general election.
Issue 1 would amend the state constitution to make permanent a half-cent sales tax with revenue directed to state and local transportation, including highways, roads and bridges. The sales tax was temporarily authorized by voters in 2012 and set to expire in 2023.
The Department of Finance and Administration estimated that the tax authorized by the amendment would generate $293.7 million in revenue based on 12 months of collections. It would be allocated in the following way:
70 percent (nearly $205.6 million) to state highways.
15 percent (a little more than $44 million) to county transportation.
15 percent (a little more than $44 million) to city transportation.
Issue 2, the state legislative term limits amendment, would end lifetime term limits for legislators, allowing them to come back after a four-year break. Currently legislators may only serve 16 years. They are then term-limited from running again. If Issue 2 passed, legislators could serve only 12 years consecutively but would have the option to run again after a four-year period. If they served fewer than 12 consecutive years, the clock resets.
Issue 2 would allow current legislators and those voted to office in November to serve 16 years (under the current standard) but would allow them to then run again after the four-year break.
Issue 3, the initiative process and legislative referral requirements amendment, would change requirements for citizen-initiated and legislative-initiated ballot issues.
It would eliminate the requirement to publish legislative amendments in a newspaper in each county for six months ahead of the election. Instead, those amendments would be published “in a manner provided by law.” It would also require a three-fifths vote of both chambers of the legislature to refer a proposed constitutional amendment to voters.
It would make several changes to citizen-initiated ballot issues, including:
Require that a petition must contain valid signatures equaling at least half of the required percentage of signatures from each of 45 counties instead of the current requirement of 15 counties.
Eliminate the option for petitioners to collect extra signatures for 30 days if the petition fails to meet the signature requirement but the petition has at least 75 percent of the valid signatures needed.
Require challenges to the sufficiency of any ballot measure to be filed no later than April 15 of the election year. There is currently no deadline.
Require signatures for citizen initiative petitions to be submitted to the secretary of state by Jan. 15 of the election year rather than the current deadline of four months before the election.
[The Log Cabin Democrat editorial board announced its stand on the ballot issues in this week’s editorial on page A3.]