Know before you vote!
Arkansas voters will decide on five ballot measures in November
firstname.lastname@example.org When voters head to the polls to vote on a number of state, county and local races On Election Day 2018, there will also be a quintet of proposed changes to Arknsas law. While you will see only the popular name and title of each proposal, there are many provisions and details to each ballot issue.
Issue 1 — An Amendment Concerning Civil Lawsuits and the Powers of the General Assembly and Supreme Court to Adopt Court Rules
What's being proposed?
This amendment asks voters to approve changes to four parts of Arkansas Constitution.
• To add a section regarding contingency fees to Article 7 (Judicial Department). This section would prohibit attorneys from collecting a contingency fee that is more than 1/3 of the net amount of money a client receives in a civil lawsuit.
Require the state legislature in 2019 to pass laws implementing the section, which would also include establishing penalties for collecting fees higher than allowed and defining terms such as “net amount of recovery.”
• To make changes to Section 32 (Workmen’s Compensation Laws – Actions for Personal Injuries). This section would define the terms “non-economic damages” and “punitive damages” and establish a maximum amount of money a person receives as punitive damages in a lawsuit related to injuries resulting in death, or injuries to person or property. The maximum amount would be the greater of $500,000 or three times the compensatory damages awarded. It would also establish a $500,000 maximum limit that an injured person or his/her beneficiaries combined can receive as non-economic damages in a lawsuit related to injuries resulting in death, or injuries to person or property. The measure would also give legislators the authority to increase maximum amounts for non-economic and punitive damages in the future with 2/3 vote and require the state legislature in 2019 to pass laws creating a procedure to adjust the limits in future years for inflation or deflation.
• To change Section 3 (Rules of Pleading, Practice, and Procedure) of Amendment 80 (Qualifications of Justice and Judges). This section would allow the state legislature to pass laws amending or repealing a rule of pleading, practice, or procedure established by the Supreme Court with a vote of 3/5 of each house.
Allow the state legislature to pass laws creating a rule of pleading, practice or procedure with a vote of 3/5 of each house.
To change Section 9 (Annulment of Amendment of Rules) of Amendment 80 (Qualifications of Justice and Judges). Specifically, this section would:
• Lower the number of votes needed by state legislators from 2/3 to 3/5 to abolish or change rules established by the Supreme Court related to Court of Appeals, Circuit Courts, District Courts and “referees, masters and magistrates.”
How did Issue 1 get on the ballot?
Arkansas senators and representatives voted last year to put Issue 1 on the Nov. 6, 2018 ballot for voters to decide. In July, a lawsuit was filed in an attempt to remove Issue 1 from the November ballot. A Pulaski County Circuit Court judge ruled that Issue 1 should be removed from the ballot. The judge's decision has been appealed to the Arkansas Supreme Court, which will ultimately decide whether Issue 1 will remain on the ballot for voters to decide.
Issue 2 — A Constitutional Amendment Adding as a Qualification to Vote that a Voter Present Certain Valid Photographic Identification when Casting a Ballot In Person or Casting an Absentee Ballot
What's being proposed?
This proposed amendment asks voters to change Article 3 of the Arkansas Constitution to amend the qualifications residents must meet in order to vote in an election in this state. If approved by voters, this amendment would:
• Require legislators to pass a law establishing that voters must present photo identification before receiving a ballot to vote in person. Residents voting by way of an absentee ballot would be required to enclose a copy of a valid photo identification with their ballot.
• Require legislators to es- tablish what photographic identification voters may use.
• Require the state to issue photo identification at no charge to a voter who does not have identification that meets the requirements established by legislators.
• Allow a voter without valid photo identification to vote using a provisional ballot, with the ballot counting only if the voter follows the steps required by state law to certify the ballot.
• Allow legislators to create exceptions to the requirement that voters show valid photo identification when voting in person or through absentee ballot.
• Require voters to comply with all additional laws regulating elections necessary for their vote to be counted. Arkansas senators and representatives voted last year to put Issue 2 on the Nov. 6, 2018 ballot for voters to decide. As of Sept. 20, no organization has filed with the Arkansas Ethics Commission to support or oppose Issue 2.
Issue 3 — The Arkansas Term Limits Amendment
What's being proposed?
This amendment asks voters to change term limits for the General Assembly as described in Amendment 73 of the Arkansas Constitution, and to prohibit legislators from further altering these term limits. If approved by the voters, this amendment would:
• Repeal existing term limits of 16 years.
• Limit terms in the Arkansas House of Representatives to three two-year terms for a total of six years over a life-time.
• Limit terms in the Arkansas Senate to two four-year terms for a total of eight years over a life-time.
Prohibit legislators from serving more than 10 years in the General Assembly.
• Include all two-year terms, four-year terms, and full years of partial terms resulting from special elections in the overall 10-year limit that would be put into place under this amendment.
• Apply the life-time limits to all terms served by legislators on or after Jan. 1, 1993, with the exception of allowing legislators to complete their term even if it puts them over the 10-year limit.
• Prohibit legislators from proposing constitutional amendments to change term limits for the General Assembly.
More than 84,859 Arkansas voters signed a petition to put the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot.
On Sept. 5, 2018, a lawsuit was filed in an attempt to remove Issue 3 from the November ballot. The lawsuit is working its way through the court system and a ruling will be made before Election Day.
Issue 4 – An Amendment to Require Four Licenses to be Issued for Casino Gaming at Casinos, One Each in Crittenden, Garland, Pope, and Jefferson Counties
What's being proposed?
This amendment asks voters to add a section to the Arkansas Constitution to authorize four casinos to operate in the state. If approved by voters, this amendment would:
• Authorize four casinos to operate in the state, one in Jefferson County within two miles of Pine Bluff, one in Pope County within two miles of Russellville, one at or adjacent to Oaklawn Jockey Club in Garland County, and one at or adjacent to Southland Racing Corporation in Crittenden County.
• Define what type of casino gaming may occur at the four casinos.
• Prohibit people under 21 from gambling.
• Assign the Arkansas Racing Commission to regulate the licensing and operation of the casinos.
• Require the legislature to enact laws and appropriate funds for use by the Arkansas Racing Commission.
• Establish minimum requirements for who can receive casino licenses in Jefferson and Pope County and require licensees to conduct casino gaming for as long as they have a license.
• Require Arkansas Racing Commission to fund and work with Department of Human Services to implement and administer compulsive gambling disorder educational programs.
• Authorize the Arkansas Department of Human Services to make rules to administer compulsive gambling disorder educational programs.
• Establish tax rates on casino gaming net receipts and how that revenue is distributed.
• Require greyhound and horse raising operators to contribute to racing purses and awards and for Southland to set aside money for capital improvements to its racing facilities.
• Allow the casinos to operate any day, all day.
• Allow the casinos to serve alcohol during all hours in which gaming takes place, regardless of whether the casino is located in a dry city or county.
• Require casinos purchase alcohol from a licensed Arkansas wholesaler.
• Permit the shipment of gaming devices to the casinos.
• Establish that the amendment would not affect current laws regarding greyhound and horse racing, other gambling, bingos and raffles, the state scholarship lottery, or electronic games of skill.
• Declare any state laws in conflict with this amendment would not apply to this amendment.
On Sept. 10, a lawsuit was filed in an attempt to remove Issue 4 from the November ballot. A second lawsuit seeking to remove Issue 4 was filed Sept. 12. The lawsuits are working their way through the court system and a ruling will be made before Election Day.
Issue 5 – An Act to Increase the Arkansas Minimum
What's being proposed?
This initiated act would:
• Increase the state minimum wage from $8.50 to $9.25 per hour on Jan. 1, 2019.
• Increase the state minimum wage to $10 per hour on Jan. 1, 2020.
• Increase the state minimum wage to $11 per hour on Jan. 1, 2021.
More than 67,887 Arkansas voters signed a petition to put the proposed state law on the ballot.
On Sept. 4, 2018, a lawsuit was filed in an attempt to remove Issue 5 from the November ballot. The lawsuit is working its way through the court system and a ruling will be made before Election Day. You can read the lawsuit
The primary support for the issue is an organization operating under the name Arkansans for a Fair Wage, while the primary opposition group is operating under the name Arkansans for a Strong Economy.
By Ralph Hardin