Friday, February 12, 2016

AG rejects ballot initiative to reduce petition threshold for holding local alcohol elections

Posted By on Fri, Feb 12, 2016 at 3:58 PM

click to enlarge LET A HUNDRED BEER TENTS BLOOM: Ballot initiative would make it easier for festivals and restaurants to serve alcohol. - GLYN BAKER / WIKIMEDIA
  • Glyn Baker / Wikimedia
  • LET A HUNDRED BEER TENTS BLOOM: Ballot initiative would make it easier for festivals and restaurants to serve alcohol.

David Couch
, the lawyer who championed a 2014 effort to allow statewide sales of alcohol in Arkansas, is back with another try to loosen the state's restrictive drinking laws.

This time, the ballot initiative is focused on lowering the threshold of voters required to petition for a local option election in a dry county or city. The proposal would only allow sale of alcohol for on-premises consumption, at a restaurant, a hotel, a microbrewery or a festival. 

The ballot title proposes that a local option election would be conducted upon the petition of fifteen percent of the qualified electors residing within the boundaries of a dry county, or a city within the dry county, rather the current 38 percent. After voters rejected the 2014 statewide effort — in part due to a concerted advertising effort against the measure by county line liquor stores that profit greatly off of neighboring dry counties — Couch said he was considering returning to the ballot in 2016 for a push to lower the 38 percent threshold. 

Yesterday, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge rejected the proposal due to ambiguities in its text. Couch will doubtless return with another try.

Here's the AG's response to Couch's request for certification of the proposed constitutional amendment.

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