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A CLOSER LOOK: Arkansas voter guide for ballot issues

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ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — Arkansans will vote on three statewide ballot issues in the upcoming November 3, 2020 election.

3 BALLOT MEASURES, +1

ISSUE 1: 0.5% State sales tax for the state, county, and city roads, bridges and other surface transportation

ISSUE 2: Changing General Assembly term limits and allowing re-election upon a break in service

ISSUE 3: Changing Arkansas’ citizen initiative process, votes required for legislative proposals, and publication requirement

ISSUE 6: The Practice of Optometry Referendum, amends the definition of “practice of optometry.” It would allow optometrists to perform surgical procedures. It received $1.1 million in support and $2 million in opposing contributions. It will appear on the ballots for the November 3 election, but the results will not be counted or certified.

There are three legislatively referred constitutional amendments (LRCAs) on the state’s ballot. An LRCA is on the ballot as a “ballot measure” because the state legislature voted to put it before voters.

“The LRCA is a limited form of direct democracy with comparison to the initiated constitutional amendment. With the initiated constitutional amendment, voters can initiate the amendment and approve it, whereas, with the legislatively referred amendment, they can only approve or reject amendments initiated by their state’s legislature.”

BALLOTPEDIA

ARKANSAS ISSUE 1, Transportation Sales Tax Continuation Amendment

  • YES VOTE: Supports continuing a 0.5% sales tax, with revenue dedicated to state and local highways, roads, and bridges, that would otherwise expire in 2023.
  • NO VOTE: Opposes continuing the 0.5% sales tax, thereby allowing the tax to expire once bond debt authorized in 2012 is repaid in 2023.

This amends the state constitution to make a 0.5% sales tax — permanent. Voters approved this “temporary sale tax” in 2012 and it’s set to expire in 2023. This tax would not be applied to food or food ingredients.

This one-half percent sales and use tax would generate nearly $240 million in revenue per year, according to estimates by the Department of Finance and Administration. State Highways would get 70% and county/city transportation would get 15% each.

The amendment was sponsored by Rep. Jeff Wardlaw (R). Supporters include Asa Hutchinson (R) and State Senator Lance Eads.

OPPONENTS:

  • Americans For Prosperity 
  • Americans for Tax Reform 
  • Arkansas Community Organizations 
  • Audubon Arkansas 
  • Central Arkansas Sierra Club 
  • Downton Little Rock Neighborhood Association 
  • Garland County Tea Party 
  • Northeast Arkansas Tea Party

SUPPORTERS/DONATIONS:

  • Vote for Roads. Vote for Issue 1.
  • DONORS: Alice Walton, JB Hunt, Jim Walton $100,000 each; McGeorge Contracting Co., Inc. $63,000; Arkansas Economic Developers/Chamber Executives $50,000; Centennial Bank $50,000.
Jan. 18, 2016. Nanette Edgeston-Green gathers signatures on a petition to restore lawmakers term limits in Little Rock was one of the first states to cap how long someone can serve in the Legislature nearly three decades ago, but competing term limit measures on the ballot next year could test just how far voters are willing to go in limiting lawmakers’ time in office. (AP Photo/Gareth Patterson, File)

ARKANSAS ISSUE 2, Term Limits

  • YES VOTE: Supports this measure to impose term limits of 12 consecutive years for state legislators with the opportunity to return after a four-year break
  • NO VOTE: Opposes this measure, thereby keeping the state’s current 16-year lifetime term limit for state legislators.

A term limit does just that, limits the number of terms a person may serve in a certain elected office. There is an “absolute limit” on the number of terms a person can serve. There is also restrictions on the number of “consecutive terms.”

This measure means state legislators, elected in 2021 and thereafter, may serve 12 consecutive years and can return after a four-year break. Right now, Arkansas legislators can serve up to 16 years in the House or Senate.

The amendment was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Alan Clark (R-13) and in the House by Rep. Jim Dotson (R-93).

In opposition are Rep. John W. Walker (D-34) and State Rep. Vivian Flowers (D-17).

ARKANSAS ISSUE 3, Initiative Process and Legislative referral Requirements Amendment

YES VOTE: Supports the amendment to change requirements for citizen initiatives and legislative referrals.

NO VOTE: Opposes amendment to change requirements for citizen initiatives and legislative referrals, thereby leaving the initiative and referral process unchanged.

This measure would make five changes to the way legislative referrals would be obtained.

  1. Petitions must have valid signatures “equaling at least half of the required percentage of signatures” from 15 to 45 counties.
  2. Three-fifths vote on both chambers of the legislature to refer a proposed constitutional amendment to voters.
  3. Takes away 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% of needed valid signatures.
  4. Require challenges to the sufficiency of any ballot measure to be filed no later than April 15 of the election year.
  5. Require signatures for citizen initiative petitions to be submitted to the secretary of state by January 15 of the election year rather than the current deadline of four months before the election.

This amendment was sponsored by Rep. DeAnn Vaught (R).

SUPPORTER ORGANIZATIONS:

  • Arkansas Farm Bureau 
  • Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce 
  • Associated Industries of Arkansas 

OPPOSITION DONORS:

  • Protect AR Voices Committee $3,827; Gary Latanich $500; David McAvoy $272; Cat Hicks $250; Jean Guarr $210.23; Tom Steele $200.

OPPOSITION ORGANIZATIONS:

  • Arkansas Education Association 
  • League of Women Voters of Arkansas 
  • NAACP of Arkansas 
  • U.S. Term Limits 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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