Group forms to oppose higher threshold for amendment, initiated act passage

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 1,004 views 

A legislative question committee announced its formation Tuesday (Sept. 20) to oppose Issue 2, a legislative-referred constitutional amendment proposal that would require a 60% voting threshold for new amendments or initiatives.

Issue 2, the “Constitutional Amendment and Ballot Initiative Reform Amendment”, would change the number of votes required for approval of initiated acts and constitutional amendments – both proposed by the people and referred by the legislature – to at least 60% of the votes cast.

Protect AR Rights, a citizen-led effort to “preserve Arkansans’ constitutional right to use ballot measures to reform our laws and political process,” has formed a Legislative Question Committee to oppose Ballot Issue 2 this November.

The coalition includes Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, AR NAACP, Arkansas Education Association, Arkansas United, Arkansas Citizens First Congress, For AR People, Arkansas Public Policy Panel, AAUW of Arkansas, Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, Indivisible of LR and Central AR, and Arkansas Community Organization.

A Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College Poll conducted last week showed that Issue 2 was supported by 32% of voters and opposed by 32% of voters. The remaining 36% surveyed were undecided.

“The Arkansas motto is Regnat Populus, meaning the people rule,” said Kymara Seals, Chair of Protect AR Rights. “One of the ways the people rule in Arkansas is by passing laws on the issues we care about using ballot initiatives. For more than 100 years, Arkansans have used initiated measures to get issues on the ballot so voters can pass laws that help our communities. Raising the threshold to 60% would, however, weaken the people’s constitutionally guaranteed power to rule.”

Rep. David Ray, R-Maumelle, and Sen. Ben Gilmore, R-Crossett, have formed a Legislative Question Committee in support of Issue 2. The committee, Defend AR Constitution, will be advocating for passage of the proposal.

“These left-wing groups who oppose Issue 2 clearly haven’t considered how Issue 2 would benefit their constituencies. Issue 2 gives the voters even greater power to act as a check on the legislature, which historically has proposed the majority of potential constitutional amendments. All Arkansans, regardless of their political affiliation, stand to benefit from a 60% passage threshold that ensures there is genuine consensus when we make changes to our constitution,” said Ray, who serves as chairman of Defend AR Constitution.