The Arkansas Supreme Court reversed most of Circuit Judge Mary McGowan’s previous ruling, which declared numerous provisions of Act 1413 to be unconstitutional restrictions on the rights of Arkansans seeking to petition their government. Legislators passed the Act back in 2013.
Arkansas is neither vibrant New York nor sunny California. Located in the South-Mid of the United States, Arkansas’ facts are average: Inhabited by 2,949,132 people, Arkansas ranks 32nd with regards to population and 29th in geographical size. At the same time, the “Natural State” - Arkansas is called due to its enduring image - has produced extraordinary figures: Bill Clinton (born in Hope in 1946) made Arkansas famous when the Governvor was elected US President in 1993. Singer songwriter Johnny Cash and former NATO US General Wesley Clark also grew up in the state, which was inhabited by the Caddo, Osage, and Quapaw indigenous people prior to European Settlement.
Three of the five measures that are likely to be on the November 4th ballot are polling with different degrees of voter support, according to a new battery of surveys from Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College.
The new polling of 2,075 likely Arkansas voters was conducted on Wednesday, Oct. 15 and Thursday, Oct. 16. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 2.2% and includes live cell phone calls and automated landline respondents.
More than 69,000 additional signatures supporting the increase were delivered to the capitol building Monday. That’s about 7,000 signatures more than needed to make it to the November ballot.
The proposal would raise Arkansas’ minimum hourly pay from $6.25 an hour to $7.50 on January first next year. Then it goes to $8.00 flat in 2016 and up to $8.50 in 2017.
For citizens of the Natural State, a natural medicine won’t appear on the ballot this November. Arkansans for Compassionate Care decided not to turn in signatures for a proposed medical marijuana ballot measure as it had not collected enough by yesterday’s deadline. The group announced gathering just over 50,000 signatures, but needed 62,507 valid voter signatures to qualify for the ballot. Campaign director Melissa Fults said the group would try again for the 2016 election.
A group pushing for legalizing medical marijuana in Arkansas says it won’t have enough signatures to put its proposal before voters this fall.
Arkansans for Compassionate Care said Monday it wouldn’t turn in signatures to place its proposed initiated act on the November ballot. Monday is the deadline for ballot measure campaigns to submit petitions.
Meanwhile, supporters of measures to expand alcohol sales in Arkansas and raise the state’s minimum wage submitted enough signatures to be placed on the November ballot, pending Secretary of State confirmation.
Beyond fireworks, American flags and barbecue, be prepared for another sight at Arkansas’ Fourth of July festivals and parades this weekend: Someone asking for signatures.
Supporters of efforts to raise the state’s minimum wage, legalize medical and recreational uses of marijuana and expand alcohol sales are making a last push to gather signatures over the holiday weekend as they near the deadline to submit petitions to the state.
Arkansas Circuit Court Judge Mary McGowan issued a final judgment striking down a myriad of provisions in Act 1413 as unconstitutional violations of the rights of Arkansas citizens to petition their government. Her decision, a major victory for petition rights, will likely now be appealed by the Arkansas Attorney General.
Yesterday, Circuit Court Judge Mary McGowan issued an 11-page decision declaring Act 1413’s restrictions on initiative and referendum petitions to be unconstitutional and enjoining Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin from enforcing the 19-page law’s new “crushing” rules on paid and volunteer signature canvassers.
Act 1413 (Senate Bill 821) was passed at the behest of the state’s current duopoly gaming interests, who presumably wanted to foil any future attempts through ballot measures to permit competition. The law was offered officially as a way to fight fraud in the petition process, after a spate of allegations of fraud and forgery in several 2012 measures.
Circuit Judge Mary McGowan ruled today that the 2013 law aimed at making it harder to petition for ballot initiatives was unconstitutional and enjoined its enforcement. The state will likely appeal.
The Arkansas Public Law Center, of which I’m a board member, and the Arkansas chapter of the american Civil Liberties Union supported the lawsuit, with plaintiffs Paul Spencer of the Regnat Populus ethics reform group, and Nealy Sealy of Arkansas Community Organizations.
The secretary of state’s office said Thursday it’s cleared the way for three proposed constitutional amendments to appear on the November ballot, despite questions about who has the authority to prepare the measures’ language under a new law.
Martha Adcock, general counsel for Secretary of State Mark Martin’s office, told lawmakers that the office decided to use language provided by the attorney general’s office and from legislation approved last year to prepare the proposals for the November ballot. A new law took away the attorney general’s authority to prepare the measures’ “popular names” that appear on the ballot.
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Earlier this week, legal briefs were filed by all parties after a Nov. 14-15 hearing regarding the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction against Arkansas’s new, draconian anti-petition law, Act 1413, which passed the legislature earlier this year as emergency legislation.
The lawsuit, Spencer v. Martin, was brought by the ACLU of Arkansas and the Public Law Center on behalf of plaintiffs Paul Spencer, a leader of Regnat Populus, and Neal Sealy, executive director of Arkansas Community Organizations. The suit was filed against the defendant, the Arkansas Secretary of State (acting in an official capacity), with the state’s Attorney General having intervened into the case on the side of the defendant.
Last week, Citizens in Charge President Paul Jacob testified as an expert witness in a two-day hearing before Circuit Court Judge Mary McGowan, who is being asked to issue a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of Act 1413, pending a trial on whether the statute, passed earlier this year by legislators, violates the political rights of Arkansans under the Arkansas and the U.S. Constitutions.
Yesterday, the ACLU of Arkansas and the Arkansas Public Law Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of two citizens of the Natural State seeking to overturn Act 1413, a statute that establishes cumbersome restrictions on paid signature gatherers and provides new byzantine rules designed to disqualify whole petition pages of valid signatures due to the smallest of mistakes.
A referendum petition regarding a zoning ordinance that would allow construction of a Walmart Neighborhood Market is one step closer to appearing on a ballot.
Russellville City Clerk Kathy Collins confirmed Thursday she verified 917 of the petition’s signatures; 878 signatures were required.
The petition called for a special election on Aug. 13 to allow voters to decide whether to keep or overturn an ordinance rezoning property located at South Vancouver Avenue and West Main Street to a planned unit development (PUD).