Proponents of five potential ballot measures have until July 6 to gather the 67,887 signatures needed to include their initiatives in 2018 election
by Chris Price
Elections in presidential mid-term years generally draw less public interest and voters to the polls, but Arkansans have a lot to consider on the 2018 ballot. From U.S. House races to the state’s three governing branches, including governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general; state supreme court, senate, and house races; local elections for courts and school boards; and a yet undetermined set of ballot measures.
The Arkansas Legislature may refer up to three constitutional amendments in each general election for the electorate to decide, and sent two amendments to voters this year. The first, if passed, would limit attorneys’ fees and damages awarded in lawsuits and allow the legislature to amend or repeal the state Supreme Court’s related rules in applicable cases. The second would require photo identification to vote.
Arkansans may add potential state statutes and constitutional amendments with enough popular support. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge received more than 80 proposals. After only approving one, she was sued for violating Arkansas constitutional rights that allow citizens to propose laws. She eventually certified five initiatives dealing with minimum wage, gambling and congressional and state legislative redistricting to advance to the next step of gathering enough signatures for them to appear on the 2018 ballot.
- The State Legislative Term Limits Initiative aims to impose six-year term limits on representatives and eight-year term limits on senators in the Arkansas Legislature.
- The Minimum Wage Increase Initiative would increase the state’s minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2022
- The Casinos Authorized in Crittenden, Garland, Pope and Jefferson Counties Initiative would authorize four new casinos in said counties.
- The Casinos Authorized in Benton, Boone, Miller and Pulaski Counties Initiative would also allow four new casinos in those counties.
- The Congressional and State Legislative Redistricting Commission Initiative would establish a commission to study congressional and state legislative redistricting.
Proponents of the potential bills have until July 6, 2018, to gather the 67,887 valid signatures required for the initiative to be included in the November election. The number of needed signatures to pass an initiated state statute is constitutionally mandated at eight percent of the total number of votes cast in the last gubernatorial election, 848,592 in 2014.
Since 1995, 48 citizen-initiated propositions have appeared on statewide ballots with 33, or 69 percent, succeeding and 15, or 31 percent, failing.