Election Day: Peoples is Peoples

by Jason Tolbert ([email protected]) 54 views 

It’s election day in Arkansas and in several states around the country.  The only statewide issue up for a vote today is the renewal of $575 million in highway bonds originally passed in 1999 under Gov. Mike Huckabee.  The renewal does not include a tax increase as the original proposal created a permanent four-cent diesel tax so only the bonds are up for a vote.

The issue has broad bipartisan support with some opposition coming mainly from several tea party groups who object to the additional debt.  Most believe the issue will pass easily. But it is a special election, so you never know.

My chief complaint on issue is the timing of the election, which could have been scheduled with a regular statewide election and saved about a million dollars.

There are also several local proposals on the ballot today.  In North Little Rock, voters will decide whether to approve a one-cent increase in their sales tax rate.  In Benton, voters will decide whether to extend a one-and-a-half cent hamburger tax that will fund a $7 million event center.

Other elections around the country will be closer.  In Mississippi, their state constitutional officers and state legislative elections are today.  I highly recommend the local state politics blog, Majority in Mississippi, to follow the latest there.

MIM has a full preview here.  They predict that the Republicans will hold the current statewide offices, expect for perhaps the attorney general’s office which is the only statewide office held by a Democrat.  PPP has a poll that backs this up in the governor’s race showing Republican Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant with a comfortable 14 point lead over Democrat Johnny DePree.

The more interesting races there could be the state legislative races where Republicans currently hold the State Senate, but Democrats hold the State House. Republicans need to pick up eight seats to take the House and that could happen.

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Also on the ballot is an initiative called “Personhood Mississippi.”  It is an issue I am just now learning about, but it is one to watch as a similar movement is underway to get this on the ballot here in Arkansas.  The purpose of the measure is to declare life beginning at the moment of conception and grant full rights to this life as a person.  If passed, the new law will no doubt be challenged leading to a possible showdown over Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court.

PPP has passage of this one as a toss-up.  The pro-choice opponents have done a good job of finding flaws with the measure and creating opposition in a state that is heavily pro-life.  Hopefully, the folks behind “Personhood Arkansas” are taking notes from Mississippi’s first attempt in crafting their measure.

The Washington Post’s blog The Fix has a rundown on a few other races worth watching, including a union issue in Ohio, a chance for Republicans to pick up the State Senate in Virginia, and a likely Democratic win for governor in Kentucky.