What’s On Your Ballot in November?
On your ballot this November are five measures asking voters to approve Constitutional amendments for administration of government, direct democracy, term limits, alcohol sales, and the minimum wage. Since 1996, Arkansans have seen an average of four proposed Constitutional amendments each election cycle and have approved roughly two-thirds (25) of the 37 total proposed amendments.
Issue #1, Administrative Rules
Issue #2, Signatures on Citizen Petitions
Issue #3, “Ethics,” Extends Term Limits
Issue #4, Alcohol Sales
Issue #5, Minimum Wage
This November, three issues are what’s called “LRCAs” (legislatively referred constitutional amendments) and two are “CICAs” (citizen initiated constitutional amendments).
Issue #1 – Administration of Government
Issue #2 – Direct Democracy
Issue #2 sets a threshold of 75% of required petition signatures to obtain additional time for signature collection. This measure adds a requirement — where none exists now — that canvassers must present at least 75% of the required signatures before the Secretary of State would grant lawful extra time to complete the petitions with the required number of signers.
Issue #3 – Term Limits, “Ethics,” Etc.
Issue #3, the so-called “Ethics Amendment,” would set rules on lobbying by state legislators, set up a citizen board to set state salaries (instead of the Arkansas Legislature, as it is now), and DOUBLE the term limits Arkansas voters put on our legislators.
The bill provides that the Governor, House Speaker and Senate Pro Tem each name 2 members of the citizens commission that then sets their state salaries, while the Chief Justice names one.
The legislators won’t tell you that the people of Arkansas voted overwhelmingly not once but twice, giving a clear mandate on our current term limits.
In 2004, the last time legislator tried to change voters’ minds on this issue, 70% voted to keep term limits as is.
Issue #4: Alcohol Sales
Issue #4 was placed on the ballot by citizen petition and Legalizes the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcohol statewide (the “wet Arkansas” bill). Pro-alcohol activists leveraged financial backing from Wal-Mart and Kum and Go stores (who, of course, will benefit greatly from such sales) as well as paid signature gathering firms to reach the petition signature threshold, so we don’t believe this is represents a true “citizen initiated” effort.
Issue #5: Minimum Wage
Issue #5, the other citizen initiated item, raises Arkansas’s minimum wage from $6.25 to $8.50 per hour by 2017 (the “minimum wage bill”). Did you know that Arkansas’ $6.25 rate is below the mandated federal minimum of $7.25 (which takes precedent by federal law)? So anyone eligible for minimum wage here is already being paid at least $7.25/hour.
Be careful out there! At least one of the three legislatively referred measures is a “trojan horse,” as SaveArkansasTermLimits puts it — and just because registered voters sign a petition to create a citizen-referred constitutional amendment doesn’t always means “the citizens” are the ones who really want it. What’s on your ballot this November?