Major Questions Seek Voter Approval In Election
It is now crunch time for candidates and especially those promoting or fighting the four proposed questions before voters in the 2018 General Election, which is Nov. 6.
Of the questions before voters, two are from the elected officials (a.k.a. the Arkansas Legislature) and three are from citizen-driven initiatives.
The fifth question set for the ballot, but still in question whether it will appear, is a citizen-led ballot issue for casino gambling proposed to raise revenue of which a portion of those revenues will be for road repairs and highway programs.
That issue, as of now, is still trying to confirm the proper number of signatures has been submitted.
Despite the ambiguity of the signatures, advertisements on television and radio have been airing about the proposed amendment for casino gambling for roads.
But remember, Arkansas voters, we have seen this before as an amendment proposed never makes the official ballot.
As of Aug. 28, 2018, four statewide ballot measures were certified for the 2018 ballot in the state of Arkansas, according to an official state website.
Those issues are:
Issue 1: Tort Law Amendment that limits attorney’s fee and damages awarded in lawsuits and allows the legislature to amend or repeal the Supreme Court’s related rules.
Issue 2: An Elections Amendment that requires a voter photo identification to vote.
Issue 3: A Term Limits Amendment that imposes six-year term limits on representatives and eight-year term limits on senators.
And Issue 5: An Amendment on the Minimum wage that increases the state’s minimum wage to $11 per hour by 2022.
Issue No 4, if you are counting, is to be the casino gambling/road repair issue.
The big-hot button issue of the next nine weeks will be Tort Reform or Amendment 1 on the ballot for Nov. 6.
Already significant public debate has been raised from Political Animals Clubs across the state to the state Bar Association and even the Arkansas Medical Community has weighed in on this issue. The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and other quasi political/business entities have staked out sides on this issue, which will limit the amount of legal damages and liability in all types of legal litigation.
Perhaps the most significant issue in Issue 1 other than set “damage awards,” in most cases is that the power to change court rules and regulations will given to the state legislature — not the courts themselves. It’s the first time ever since the Arkansas Constitution was set in 1874 that the elected officials, not elected judges, will make the rules for Arkansas court system.
That alone should give everyone a significant pause for reflection.
Truthfully, that issue alone, scares the Dickens out of me.
But back to the issues on the ballot.
The Arkansas State Legislature is allowed to refer up to three constitutional amendments to the ballot for each general election. During the 2017 legislative session, the state legislature referred just two — a voter ID amendment and a cap on attorney’s fees and lawsuit damages awards amendment.
The ballot issues appearing on the General Election ballots for Arkansans to decide over the last decade has been many.
A total of 48 measures appeared on statewide ballots between 1995 and 2016. And from 1995 to 2016, an average of four measures appeared on the ballot during even-numbered years in Arkansas.
Between 1995 and 2016, 68.75 percent (33 of 48) of statewide ballots were approved by voters, and 31.25 percent (15 of 48) were defeated.
Study these issues and ask questions about them. Often the Devil is indeed, deep in these amendments’ details.
MAYLON RICE IS A FORMER JOURNALIST WHO WORKED FOR SEVERAL NORTHWEST ARKANSAS PUBLICATIONS. HE CAN BE REACHED VIA EMAIL AT MAYLONTRICE@YAHOO.COM. THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR.
“Study these issues and ask questions about them. Often the Devil is indeed, deep in these amendments’ details.”