Saturday, August 9, 2014

Lawsuit challenges petitions for alcohol sales in Saline County

Posted By on Sat, Aug 9, 2014 at 7:23 AM

click to enlarge THE THREAT NEXT DOOR: Red Gate is one of the liquor dealers near the Saline County line that could be affected if a wet/dry question is approved there.
  • THE THREAT NEXT DOOR: Red Gate is one of the liquor dealers near the Saline County line that could be affected if a wet/dry question is approved there.
Three people have sued to challenge the certification of a retail alcohol sales question for the November ballot in Saline County.

Lead lawyer for the plaintiffs is Elizabeth Robben Murray of Little Rock's Friday Firm. She has been working for retail liquor dealers in several counties who have organized to fight both local option proposals and a statewide petition drive to open retail alcohol sales in all 75 Arkansas counties.

Local option drives — which require 38 percent of voters to make the ballot — fell short in Faulkner and Craighhead Counties, but sufficient signatures were certified to call an election in Saline County, now dry except for private clubs. Sales in Saline would present significant competitive problems for, to name some, big liquor stores sitting at the county line on Interstate 30 in Pulaski County.

The lawsuit contends that the Saline petition was faulty because the proposed ordinance didn't contain an enacting clause. It also challenges the sufficiency of the petitions in other ways — lack of proper notarization in some cases; questionable signatures; flaws in signatures by canvassers; signatures gathered in the period between the time when petitions were first submitted but before the county clerk said additional signatures were required, and others.

Walmart and Kum & Go provided money for the petition campaign. Retailers also have powered the drive for a statewide vote. That canvassing is still in progress after a 30-day extension from the secretary of state's office. Murray has also filed an objection to those petitions with the secretary of state. A lawsuit is expected if the secretary of state certifies the ballot question.

Here's the lawsuit.

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