November ballot issues affect highway funding, term limits and initiative process

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 1,323 views 

There will be three proposed constitutional amendments on voters’ November ballots that could affect highway funding, term limits and the initiative process itself.

Issues 1, 2 and 3 are all legislatively-referred as the citizen-led proposals were all tossed from the ballot by the Arkansas Supreme Court earlier this year due to procedural issues tied to signature collections. A new state law led to a court ruling that said canvassers did not “pass” criminal background checks.

Issue 1 is a proposal that is part of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s highway plan. The initiative would make permanent a half-cent sales tax dedicated for road funding that is set to expire in 2022. If approved by voters this fall, Issue 1 will keep the tax in place and require that it remain spent on highways and road infrastructure.

Issue 2 alters the state’s current term limits law. Presently, state lawmakers may serve up to 16 years in either the House or Senate, but are then banned from future service – in effect, a lifetime ban on legislative service after the 16 years. The new proposal allows for 12 years of service in either legislative chamber, the House or Senate, but can be followed by four years of not serving before another 12 years of service could be allowed. There are some limited exceptions to this initiative related to its transition, if approved.

Issue 3 is the most complicated proposed amendment on the ballot. It would change the way the ballot initiative process works. For legislative-referred proposals, it would require a three-fifths vote (60%) of each chamber before being put forward to voters for consideration. For citizen-referred proposals, it changes the timeline for filing documents related to the process, removes a cure period to gather more signatures, moves up the deadlines for legal challenges, and expands the number of counties signatures must be collected from 15 to 45.

Kristin Higgins with the Public Policy Center of the UA Cooperative Extension Service was a guest on this week’s Talk Business & Politics. She offers an in-depth analysis of each ballot measure. The policy center’s web site also has useful, non-partisan information on the three ballot issues, too.

Watch her full interview below.

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