2016 Ballot Issues, Proposed Amendments to Arkansas Constitution
On your November 8, 2016 ballot are six proposed Constitutional amendments and one measure that, if passed, would result in new Arkansas law.
Here’s a list (below); click on the issue title for detailed information.
UPDATE 10/31/2016: Arkansans for Compassionate Care today asked the Arkansas Supreme Court to reverse its ruling striking Issue 7 from the November ballot for invalid signatures, saying “The Legislature essentially created a trap because it upended many years of prior practice. Issue 7 is the first catch of that trap. If this decision stands, there may be no future grassroots efforts simply because of lack of money.” UPDATE 10/27/2016: Issue 7, the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, was struck from the ballot today by the Arkansas Supreme Court, who ruled that canvassers didn’t correctly follow new canvasser requirements (among other problems). As a result, votes for Issue 7 will not be tabulated (the issue remains on the ballot).
UPDATE 10/13/16: The Arkansas Supreme Court struck Issue 4 and Issue 5 from the November ballot (even though both will still appear on the ballot, no votes will be counted).
Each election cycle the Arkansas Legislature can legally submit up to 3 ballot items to a vote of the people. For 2016, those issues are:
Constitutional Amendment Considers unopposed candidates as automatically elected; takes terms for all county elected officials (other than JPs and constables) from 2 to 4 years; and other election and eligiblity issues.
Issue 2 (SJR 3) – Governor Keeps Powers When Out of State
Constitutional Amendment Allows the governor to retain powers and duties when absent from the state
Constitutional Amendment Removes limits on borrowing for “economic development” for cities and counties; allows cities, counties, and school districts to form compacts for “economic development; allows taxes other than special taxes to repay bonds; and other issues surrounding borrowing money for economic development.
These following three proposed Constitutional amendments — Issues 4, 5, and 6 — were brought by the people via referendum:
UPDATE 10/13/16: The Arkansas Supreme Court struck the following Issue 4 from the November ballot (even though it will still appear on the ballot, no votes will be counted):
Constitutional Amendment Sets 33 1/3% limit on contingency fees and sets a minimum $250,000 non-economic damage award for medical malpractice lawsuits (allows Legislature to set high-end limit), except for medical-injury fees in workers’ compensation cases.
UPDATE 10/13/16: The Arkansas Supreme Court struck the following Issue 5 from the November ballot (even though it will still appear on the ballot, no votes will be counted):
Constitutional Amendment Specifies that casino gambling be allowed by law in only 3 specific counties (Boone, Miller, and Washington) for only 3 specifically named companies (Arkansas Gaming & Resorts, Miller County Gaming, and Washington County Gaming); setting taxes; and exempting those casinos from local zoning laws pertaining to time of operation and serving alcohol
Constitutional Amendment Allows use of medical marijuana distributed and regulated similarly to alcohol via licensed medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities for specified ailments
The same newly formed anti-marijuana group has sued to block both Issue 6 and 7 from the ballot. UPDATE 10/13/16: The Arkansas Supreme Court dismissed the challenge; Issue 6 remains on the ballot.
UPDATE 11/3/2016: The Arkansas Supreme Court today declined to rehear its decision that knocked Issue 7 (below) off the ballot, giving no further explanation for its ruling against petition signatures for the citizen-sponsored initiative.
UPDATE 10/31/2016: Arkansans for Compassionate Care today asked the Arkansas Supreme Court to reverse its ruling that struck Issue 7 (below) from the November ballot.
UPDATE 10/27/2016: The Arkansas Supreme Court struck the following Issue 7 from the November ballot (although it remains on the ballot, votes will note be counted).
Issue 7 – The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act (AMCA)
Initiated Act Makes medical use of cannabis legal under Arkansas law by distribution to qualifying patients via nonprofit cannabis care centers and testing labs; allows limited cultivation by patients and caregivers if patient lives more than 20 miles from a nonprofit cannabis care center
We urge you to think carefully about giving your approval to Constitutional amendments, which are traditionally much more difficult to roll back or repeal if voters change their minds at a later date. Please study these issues and exercise your right to vote in the November 8 General Election on these issues affecting Arkansas’s future.