Arkansans for Healthy Eyes filed a motion Monday (Aug. 26) to intervene in the Arkansas Supreme Court case challenging the Secretary of State’s decision to reject Safe Surgery Arkansas’ petition to put a measure repealing Act 576 on the ballot.
Arkansans for Healthy Eyes is the ballot question committee advocating for Act 579 and is led by the optometrists association. Safe Surgery Arkansas represents the ophthalmologists association and is the ballot question committee seeking to undo the legislative act.
Safe Surgery Arkansas filed a lawsuit on Aug. 13 asking the Arkansas Supreme Court to appoint a special master to review its signature collections and challenging the legality of a new law, Act 376, that was used by the Secretary of State to reject counting its petitions.
“We believe the Secretary of State was correct in rejecting tens of thousands of unlawfully solicited signatures turned in by the special interest group trying to undo Act 579,” said Vicki Farmer, chairperson of Arkansans for Healthy Eyes.
“Act 376, a law that governs the referendum process in Arkansas, is clear about what is required of a petition effort,” said Jess Askew III, attorney for Arkansans for Healthy Eyes.
“The pleadings appear to show the opposition group knew that Act 376 required them to have sworn statements on file with the Secretary of State before soliciting signatures, and the group admits the Secretary of State followed the law in rejecting more than 60,000 signatures collected before those sworn statements were on file. Basically, the group knew what the law says, it concedes it didn’t follow the law, and yet it now sues the Secretary of State for following the law,” said Askew.
Safe Surgery Arkansas did not object to the intervention.
Arkansans for Healthy Eyes also argues in its filings that the case should have been filed in Circuit Court not the Supreme Court.