Arkansas Supreme Court clears alcohol sales amendment for Nov. 4 ballot | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Arkansas Supreme Court clears alcohol sales amendment for Nov. 4 ballot

Posted By on Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 2:52 PM

THAT WAS QUICK: Within hours after the Supreme Court allowed Issue 4 on the ballot for alcohol sales statewide, Mapco was up and running on Twitter with advertising.
  • THAT WAS QUICK: Within hours after the Supreme Court allowed Issue 4 on the ballot for alcohol sales statewide, Mapco was up and running on Twitter with advertising.

The Arkansas Supreme Court today rejected a challenge of the proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the sale of alcoholic beverages in all 75 counties and end the patchwork quilt of local option elections.

A group financed primarily by county line liquor store owners had challenged the proposed amendment, financed by retailers such as grocery and convenience store chains.

The Supreme Court decision, written by Justice Karen Baker, was unanimous.

It rejected the argument that the petitions violated the Constitution by missing a July 4 deadline. Secretary of State Mark Martin extended the normal deadline, which fell on a state holiday, to July 7, the next business day. This is in keeping with long state practice.

The court agreed that Amendment 7 set a July 4 deadline. But it said that amendment must be read in concert with a subsequent election amendment, 51, and statutes. The court said it was clear the deadline occurred on a legal holiday and "the election law deadline must be the next day which is not a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday." To read the constitution otherwise would restrict petitioners' rights.

This decision should clear any questions pertaining to petition deadlines for the initiated act to raise the minimum wage. A millionaire heir to the Stephens financial fortune is trying to get that knocked off the ballot, both for the petition filing deadline and also for allegations of fraud in the signature gathering process. That case remains before the Supreme Court.

The group challenging the alcohol petition also criticized the ballot title. It said it didn't fully reveal the impact of the amendment. They said, for example, that the amendment could repeal rules that prohibit alcohol sales near churches and schools. The court said the title was sufficient in saying that it would allow alcohol sales throughout Arkansas. It said it need not decide the debate of whether such prohibitions were rules that would not be affected by the amendment or bars to sales that would fall on account of the amendment. That's a question about implementation, not the ballot title, the court said.

The court similarly said that a measure's title need not list every possible consequence in the case of the possibility that the amendment would open all counties to the sale of mixed drinks. Said the court:

We conclude that while inside the voters booth, voters will be able to reach an intelligent and informed decision for or against The Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Amdendment and understand the consequences of his or her vote based on the ballot tile.

Justices Donald Corbin and Paul Danielson wrote separately in a concurring opinion that solely by Amendment 7, which provides that laws may be enacted to facilitate it. Statutes provide for an extension of deadlines when they fall on a holiday, they said. Amendment 51 need not be considered.

An expensive campaign is expected. Opponents have already been spending from a nearly $1 million expenditure to begin working on themes that the amendment would end local option in dry areas and that some of the state legislation and ABC rules pertaining to sales could fall as well. Supporters contend that existing rules would remain in place. Retail package stores, for example, could be permitted only under population guidelines, for example.

The local option question doesn't hold much appeal to me. Alcohol is one of the few things on which we allow local option. The legislature has taken away local option on other issues, such as gun regulation. We wouldn't allow local option on prayer, abortion or same-sex marriage (though as resident of a liberal precinct, I might like the outcome.).

Conway County liquor dealers have already chipped in $575,000 alone to protect the partial monopoly they hold on Faulkner County booze sales. It's part of a kitty of more than $1.2 million from which Heathcott and Associates has received $828,000 to mount an opposition campaign. Walmart had spent heavily attempting to get local option measures on ballots in three key counties — Faulkner, Craighead and Saline — but succeeded only in Saline and there's been a legal challenge there. If Walmart weighs in on the statewide campaign, it obviously has the means for major impact.

Think about it for a minute. Conway County liquor stores are spending a fortune to keep Faulkner County from selling alcohol. That's not exactly local option.

Let Arkansas Decide, which is pushing the amendment, has reported $165,000 in contributions so far, but that figure now will certainly grow.

Tags: , ,


Comments (8)

Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Feds bust Central Arkansas drug ring

    The U.S. attorney's office in Little Rock announced today the indictment of 31 people on 53 drug, gun and money laundering charges in a Central Arkansas drug distribution operation supplied from California.
    • Sep 20, 2018
  • Six Supreme Court justices found to have violated ethics code

    The Arkansas Judicial and Disability Commission has announced the filing of formal charges of ethics violations against six members of the Arkansas Supreme Court for their handling of a case involving Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen.
    • Sep 20, 2018
  • Thursday's open line

    A light news day unless your name is Brett Kavanaugh. Here's the open line.
    • Sep 20, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Trump immigration protest at LR: Quick and fierce

    It was not even 24 hours ago that Sophia Said, director of the Interfaith Center; City Director Kathy Webb and others decided to organize a protest today of Donald Trump's executive order that has left people from Muslim countries languishing in airports or unable to come to the US at all — people with visas, green cards,a  post-doc graduate student en route to Harvard, Google employees abroad, families. I got the message today before noon; others didn't find out until it was going on. But however folks found out, they turned out in huge numbers, more than thousand men, women and children, on the grounds of the state Capitol to listen to speakers from all faiths and many countries.
    • Jan 29, 2017
  • LR Police Chief Buckner in running for Charleston, S.C. job

    KATV reports that Little Rock Police Chief Kenton Buckner is one of five finalists for the job of police chief in Charleston, S.C., and will be visit Charleston next week as part of the process.
    • Feb 2, 2018
  • Free Zinn book for Arkansas teachers

    Arkansas teachers! Get your free Howard Zinn book here! Whether Kim Hendren likes it or not.
    • Mar 3, 2017

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Thursday's open line

    • This Coward Trump quote from the article linked below is my pick for "Idiot's Quote"…

    • on September 20, 2018
  • Re: Thursday's open line

    • Franklin Graham hearts him some BP Oil. Yeah, THAT BP, who befouled the Gulf. FYI:…

    • on September 20, 2018
  • Re: Thursday's open line

    • Would that Franklin Graham asshat contend that the fact that this is okay, because it…

    • on September 20, 2018

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