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: , , ,


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

  • UA Athletic Department gets approval for more construction

    KNWA reports on University of Arkansas Board of Trustees approval today of roughly $50 million worth of athletic department construction projects on the Fayetteville campus.
    • Nov 15, 2018
  • Kurrus says he'd take control of police chief selection process

    Baker Kurrus, in the runoff with Frank Scott Jr. for Little Rock mayor, is trying to establish himself as an agent of change and he illustrated one obvious point today: When it comes to choosing a new police chief, he sees the mayor, not the city manager, as the leader of that process.
    • Nov 15, 2018
  • Asa's tax cuts heavily favor the rich

    Numbers don't lie. Check out the latest analysis by Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families on winners and losers under Gov. Asa Hutchinson's plan to cut income taxes by more than $200 million over four years, primarily by a whopping reduction of 15 percent in the top marginal tax rate, from 6.9 to 5.9 percent.
    • Nov 15, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Among the last words from Kenneth Williams: 'Finger Lickin' Good Fried Chicken'

    What's purported to be a final-words essay from condemned prisoner Kenneth Williams was distributed today by Deborah Robinson, a freelance journalist in Arkansas.  He reflects on his execution, his victims, reactions of inmates and big servings of fried chicken, which he says are given to all inmates on execution days.
    • Apr 27, 2017
  • Former Arkansas Baptist professor 'exploring' run for Little Rock Ward 7 city director

    Edmond "Ed" Davis, a former professor at Arkansas Baptist College and the executive director of a school applying for a charter in Southwest Little Rock, will announce the formation of an exploratory committee for a campaign for the Little Rock city director Ward 7 position. Brenda "B.J." Wyrick has held the position since 1994.
    • Apr 3, 2018
  • Police identify two women found fatally shot on Chicot Road

    Little Rock police have identified two women found dead of gunshot wounds in an SUV parked next to a vacant trailer in a mobile home park at 11500 Chicot Road.
    • May 16, 2017

Slideshows

  • Arkansas vs Ole Miss at War Memorial stadium in Little Rock, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. After leading for much of the game, Arkansas lost 37-33 when Ole Miss scored the game winning Touchdown with less that 2 minutes left. 
  • Margaret Clark Adventure Park
    New sculptures, preschoolers play area dedicated in Riverfront Park in Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation