Attack on referendum process continues | Arkansas Blog

Friday, April 12, 2013

Attack on referendum process continues

Posted By on Fri, Apr 12, 2013 at 9:12 AM

The Oaklawn and Southland casinos, gas lobby and other business interests are in a House committee this morning with an 11th-hour amendment to SB 821 to strangle the ballot referendum process. This is on top of a constitutional amendment aimed at the same thing.

The amendment heaps more requirements and expenses on sponsors of ballot initiatives. It does remove the provision prohibiting payment to canvassers based on number of signatures gathered.

Duopoly casinos, rapacious gas and pipeline companies and the usual corporate interests DO NOT like that grassroot groups might propose laws that affect their business. They want to chill it.

Funny irony: The defeat of the so-called tort reform amendment reportedly has the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce talking about an initiative petition on the ballot to kill the ability to file damage lawsuits. Of course, the chamber has the money necessary to meet the new requirements of this referendum-chilling law, no matter how onerous.

The fix looks to be in. A motion for a do-pass was made before any arguments or questions were entertained.

Rep. John Walker objected. "Why is it that we want to burden the process of petitioning," he asked. Easy answer. To discourage them.

Defenders of the amendment cited problems in the last election on faulty signatures. Of course, those measures didn't make the ballot. The system in place worked.

Walker persisted, saying the bill infringed on the petition process guaranteed by the First Amendment. If only a gun was involved, he might have gotten more sympathy.

Walker also linked the bill's requirement for more reporting on identities of people gathering signatures with past efforts by government to identify members of unpopular organizations such as the NAACP. Sponsors said they were only aiming at paid canvassers. The intent is not to "out some secret group," said sponsoring Rep. John Vines from Oaklawn's hometown.

Rep. Nate Bell suggested that paying petition canvassers came close to "buying votes." Really. We'll see if he feels that way when it's the chamber buying signatures. Or when it was the Waltons buying signatures for legal booze sales in Benton County.

A backer of the marijuana initiative said the existing law works, particularly if prosecutors would act on cases of fraud. She said they'd begged prosecutors to act against someone responsible for bogus signatures on their campaign, but nothing was done.

An opponent, Mark Johnson, also noted the strong constitutional language in Amendment 7 against legislation hampering the petition right. In other words, this proposal is another lawsuit waiting to happen.

OUTCOME: The bill drew 9 votes, two short of the 11 needed for endorsement. Lots of absences.

Tags: , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • North Little Rock mayor shows downtown plaza plan

    North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith is presenting a plan to the City Council tonight for a downtown plaza meant to augment planned private developments and further enhanced downtown as a destination.
    • Sep 25, 2017
  • Attorney general asks for continued secrecy on execution drugs

    As expected, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has asked the Arknasas Supreme Court for an "emergency stay" of a lower court ruling that the Correction Department must produce labels from one of the drugs used in executions.
    • Sep 25, 2017
  • Groups seek end to commercial collection of wild turtles

    Several environmental organizations to end commercial turtle collection in Arkansas.The harvests (more than 126,000 turtles from 2014 to 2016) are not sustainable and that, in turn, is damaging to ecosystems, the groups said.
    • Sep 25, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • In Little Rock, Marco Rubio sells American exceptionalism

    This is Rubio's axiomatic answer to Donald Trump's insistence that he and he alone will Make America Great Again: America is the greatest, always has been.
    • Feb 22, 2016
  • Women's March planned in Arkansas to mark Trump inauguration

    Speaking of Donald Trump and in answer to a reader's question: There will be a women's march in Arkansas on Jan. 21, the day after inauguration, as well as the national march planned in Washington.
    • Dec 30, 2016
  • Auditor Lea caught not telling the truth

    State Auditor Andrea Lea, who began her tenure in statewide office with a degree of competence unseen in some other Republican counterparts (think Treasurer Dennis Milligan particularly), is becoming more deeply mired in a political scandal.
    • Mar 4, 2016

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation