2014 Ballot Issues

[Stacey McCullough] Ballot issues can be confusing.
That’s why the Public Policy Center and Cooperative Extension Service, both part of the University
of Arkansas System, Division of Agriculture developed fact sheets and other resources
to help voters. This year there will be five different issues
that will appear on the statewide general election ballot. [Kristin Higgins] Issue 1 is a constitutional amendment asking voters to give state legislators
the authority to review state agency rules as well as approve or disapprove of them before
they can go in to effect. An administrative rule is something that a state agency puts
into place to carry out a state law. For example: contracting procedure, hunting regulations,
what state Medicaid will cover, among a whole host of other state laws that state agencies
are responsible for carrying out. Currently department heads of state agencies
do work with state legislators on making changes to proposed rules, either in response to questions
or clarifications or potential changes that they think would make the rules better. But
in the end, state legislators do not have the ability to vote on these changes. They
don’t have the ability to rule up or down. If voters approve Issue 1, that will be the
main change. [Stacey McCullough] Issue number 2 involves
the process by which citizens can place proposed legislation on the ballot. It’s a proposed
constitutional amendment that would require a minimum number of signatures be submitted
to the Secretary of State’s office before petitioners would be allowed to gather additional
signatures. Under current law, sponsors must submit petitions
with signatures numbering at least 10% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election
proposed constitutional amendments. For Acts, they must submit petitions with signatures
numbering at least 8% of the votes cast and 6% for referendum to overturn laws enacted
by the legislature. As long as petitions contain at least these
numbers of signatures, sponsors are automatically given an additional 30 days to collect other
signatures. The reason for this is that some of those signatures will most likely be declared
invalid by the Secretary of State’s office. Under this proposal, to receive additional
time 75% of the signatures gathered must be valid in order to get the additional 30 days.
This also includes a 75% minimum requirement from at least 15 counties across the state
as well as 75% of valid signatures statewide. [Kristin Higgins] Issue 3 on this year’s ballot
has five different sections dealing with state legislature. One section of Issue 3 deals
with term limits. Right now state legislators have the ability to serve a certain number
of years in either in the House or the Senate. This section of Issue 3 would change that
to allow state legislators to serve 16 years in the House or 16 years in the Senate, whichever
combination that they prefer. Another section of Issue 3 would set up an
Independent Citizens Commission that would have the responsibility for setting salaries
of state elected officials including Governor, Lt. Governor and other constitutional officers,
as well as House and Senate members and various judges in the state. The members of the Independent
Citizens Commission would be nominated and selected by the Governor, by leaders of the
House and Senate and by a member of the judicial system. Members of the citizen’s commission
would have the authority to set salaries for state legislators, constitutional officers,
in addition to providing recommendations on how much they would be reimbursed for travel,
lodging or meals while working on state business. Another section of Issue 3 would prohibit
state legislators and other constitutional officers from accepting a gift or asking for
a gift from a lobbyist, or a person acting on behalf of a lobbyist. The legislation approved
to put this issue on the ballot does define what a gift is. For more information on how
they define gifts, check out our fact sheets on www.uaex.edu.
In addition to the other sections I just mentioned, Issue 3 defines who a political candidate
can accept campaign contributions from when they are running for office. A candidate running
for office can accept campaign contributions from an individual, a political party, a county
political party committee, a legislative caucus committee, and an approved political action
committee. This section of Issue 3 does not change the amount that a person can contribute
to a candidate running for office. The last section of Issue 3 establishes a
two year time period between when a legislator leaves office and become a registered lobbyist.
When you see your ballot on Election Day, Issue 3 will be a little bit longer than the
other issues appearing on your ballot. Again Issue 3 contains five different sections.
A “yes” vote on Issue 3 means that you are approving all five of the list of changes.
A “no” vote means that none of those changes would take place. [Stacey McCullough] Issue number 4 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would make the
sale, manufacture, distribution and transportation of alcohol legal statewide. It would end the
process of local elections concerning alcohol sales or wet/dry elections. Currently, 37
of Arkansas’ 75 counties are dry. Twenty-six of the 38 wet counties in the state have townships
or cities within their borders that do not allow the sale of alcohol. [Kristin Higgins] Issue 5 on this years’ ballot is an initiated act to increase the state’s
minimum wage which is currently $6.25. If this issue passes the state’s minimum wage
would increase to $7.50 by 2015. In addition this issue would increase the state’s minimum
wage to $8.00 per hour starting January 1, 2016 and then finally to $8.50 in 2017.
Currently the state’s minimum wage is lower than the federal minimum wage rate of $7.25.
If Issue 5 passes in November, that would make the state minimum wage higher than the
federal rate. When the state minimum wage is higher than the federal rate, the state
rate applies. [Stacey McCullough] We hope this information
will help you make an informed decision when you vote in the 2014 General Election. This
has been an overview of the five issues that you will see on the ballot. For more detailed
information, including what supporters and opponents are saying, please visit our website
at www.uaex.edu or contact your county Cooperative Extension Service office.

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