Monday, July 7, 2014

Local option alcohol sales petitions filed in Craighead, Saline counties

Posted By on Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 4:44 PM

click to enlarge PETITION FIGHT: Opponents of alcohol sales, aiming to prevent new competition, have opposed canvassing with materials such as this.
  • PETITION FIGHT: Opponents of alcohol sales, aiming to prevent new competition, have opposed canvassing with materials such as this.
Here's an update on petition drives for local option elections to allow alcohol sales in Craighead, Faulkner and Saline counties. Petitions were filed today in Craighead and Saline. The petitions for Faulkner will be filed around Aug. 5.

As I noted in a report earlier today on petitions for statewide alcohol sales, a 2012 rewrite of the local option statute omitted the previous Aug. 5 deadline for local option petitions, so some legal uncertainty exists about what a court might determine the new deadline to be. Backers of sales are interpreting it as a window between July 7 and Aug. 5.

A delay in the Faulkner
filing  is a sign of the pitched battle there over the petitions, already being waged in expensive TV ad campaigns. Walmart and Kum & Go are underwriting the drive. Liquor retailers in Conway County, which adjoins Faulkner County, are fighting the petitions to protect their lucrative business, lots of it from legally "dry" Faulkner County.

Paid canvassers are gathering signatures. Paid "blockers" are trying to dissuade people from signing. But there were other obstacles in Faulkner, Natalie Ghidotti of the committee working on the petitions said:

We got off to a late start in Faulkner due to the tragic tornados that hit Mayflower and Vilonia and our desire to let those communities focus on their recovery efforts before collecting signatures. But even with the late start, we are more than three-quarters there in terms of the necessary signatures to file. When we reach the 38 percent threshold of registered voters, we will file appropriately with the County Clerk.

Alcohol sellers in counties that neighbor Craighead have also been fighting the campaign.

Here's the full news release on the drives so far:

OUR COMMUNITY, OUR DOLLARS FILES INITIAL PETITIONS FOR PLACING WET/DRY ISSUE ON BALLOTS IN CRAIGHEAD, SALINE COUNTIES

20,956 signatures submitted for Craighead County, and 25,917 signatures submitted for Saline County

LITTLE ROCK, AR (JULY 7, 2014) – The Our Community, Our Dollars local option ballot question committee filed its initial petitions on Monday in Saline and Craighead counties with signatures from voters confirming their desire to vote on Nov. 4 on whether retail alcohol sales should be legal in their counties.

The petitions were filed with the respective county clerks in those counties for review and validation, said committee spokesman Marshall Ney. Ney said July 7 is the first opportunity to file the petitions, per state law, as it is 120 days from the Nov. 4 election. The final deadline for filing petitions is Aug. 5, 90 days from the Nov. 4 election. The county clerk offices have up to 10 days to review and validate the signatures.

By state law, in order to place this matter on the Nov. 4 ballot, at least 38 percent of registered voters in each county must sign a petition confirming their desire to bring the matter to a vote. In Saline County, 25,917 signatures were filed with the 38 percent threshold representing approximately 25,600 signatures there; and 20,956 submitted in Craighead County with the 38 percent threshold representing approximately 20,000 signatures there, Ney said.

The committee is undertaking a similar effort in Faulkner County, but Ney said it would be closer to the Aug. 5 final deadline before Our Community, Our Dollars files petitions in that county. Our Community, Our Dollars will continue to collect signatures in all three counties.

“Our primary objective with this campaign is to allow the residents of these counties to be formally heard on an issue that hasn't been voted on in decades,” Ney said. “Much has changed over time in these counties and their individual communities, including population growth and increased economic development. We would like to see these counties have the opportunity to keep more tax revenue in their communities. The more tax revenue they ultimately receive, the better equipped they are to fund key services and amenities, such as police, fire, EMS, roads and parks."

A recent economic impact study conducted by the University of Arkansas’ Center for Business and Economic Research estimates that based on potential sales figures from 2013, a wet Craighead County could have seen $24.8 million in retail alcohol sales with related sales tax revenues for the county, a wet Saline County could have seen $34.2 million in sales with related sales tax revenues, and a wet Faulkner County could have seen $28.2 million in sales with related sales tax revenues. The overall potential economic benefit to the three counties going wet on an annual basis could be approximately $10.5 million in Craighead County, $12.5 million in Saline, and $11.3 million in Faulkner, said Kathy Deck, author of the study and director of the Center for Business and Economic Research.

Key funders of the Our Community, Our Dollars committee include Walmart and Kum & Go. Together, these two companies operate 12 stores with 1,100 employees in Craighead County, 4 stores with 780 employees in Saline County, and 6 stores with 1,500 employees in Faulkner County.

Our Community, Our Dollars is led by President Jay Allen and Treasurer Polly Martin, president of the Arkansas Grocers & Retail Merchants.

For more information, visit OUR COMMUNITY, OUR DOLLARS FILES INITIAL PETITIONS FOR PLACING WET/DRY ISSUE ON BALLOTS IN CRAIGHEAD, SALINE COUNTIES
20,956 signatures submitted for Craighead County, and 25,917 signatures submitted for Saline County

LITTLE ROCK, AR (JULY 7, 2014) – The Our Community, Our Dollars local option ballot question committee filed its initial petitions on Monday in Saline and Craighead counties with signatures from voters confirming their desire to vote on Nov. 4 on whether retail alcohol sales should be legal in their counties.

The petitions were filed with the respective county clerks in those counties for review and validation, said committee spokesman Marshall Ney. Ney said July 7 is the first opportunity to file the petitions, per state law, as it is 120 days from the Nov. 4 election. The final deadline for filing petitions is Aug. 5, 90 days from the Nov. 4 election. The county clerk offices have up to 10 days to review and validate the signatures.

By state law, in order to place this matter on the Nov. 4 ballot, at least 38 percent of registered voters in each county must sign a petition confirming their desire to bring the matter to a vote. In Saline County, 25,917 signatures were filed with the 38 percent threshold representing approximately 25,600 signatures there; and 20,956 submitted in Craighead County with the 38 percent threshold representing approximately 20,000 signatures there, Ney said.

The committee is undertaking a similar effort in Faulkner County, but Ney said it would be closer to the Aug. 5 final deadline before Our Community, Our Dollars files petitions in that county. Our Community, Our Dollars will continue to collect signatures in all three counties.

“Our primary objective with this campaign is to allow the residents of these counties to be formally heard on an issue that hasn't been voted on in decades,” Ney said. “Much has changed over time in these counties and their individual communities, including population growth and increased economic development. We would like to see these counties have the opportunity to keep more tax revenue in their communities. The more tax revenue they ultimately receive, the better equipped they are to fund key services and amenities, such as police, fire, EMS, roads and parks."

A recent economic impact study conducted by the University of Arkansas’ Center for Business and Economic Research estimates that based on potential sales figures from 2013, a wet Craighead County could have seen $24.8 million in retail alcohol sales with related sales tax revenues for the county, a wet Saline County could have seen $34.2 million in sales with related sales tax revenues, and a wet Faulkner County could have seen $28.2 million in sales with related sales tax revenues. The overall potential economic benefit to the three counties going wet on an annual basis could be approximately $10.5 million in Craighead County, $12.5 million in Saline, and $11.3 million in Faulkner, said Kathy Deck, author of the study and director of the Center for Business and Economic Research.

Key funders of the Our Community, Our Dollars committee include Walmart and Kum & Go. Together, these two companies operate 12 stores with 1,100 employees in Craighead County, 4 stores with 780 employees in Saline County, and 6 stores with 1,500 employees in Faulkner County.

Our Community, Our Dollars is led by President Jay Allen and Treasurer Polly Martin, president of the Arkansas Grocers & Retail Merchants.

For more information, visit http://www.ourcommunityourdollars.com.

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