Lawsuit Filed to Knock Issue 1 Off November Ballot
Issue 1 is really four separate ballot issues, a challenger of the measure said in a lawsuit filed Thursday to remove the proposed constitutional amendment from the November ballot.
Former Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Marion Humphrey and his attorneys detailed their opposition to Issue 1 in the complaint filed in Pulaski County on July 12. The proposal would violate the separation of powers between the legislature and the court system, the lawsuit states.
But the main argument is that Issue 1 violates a provision that multiple changes in a ballot measure must be related to each other.
“Issue No. 1 does not allow the voters in the State of Arkansas to “vote on each amendment separately” and instead includes four amendments into one vote, which constitutes unconstitutional “logrolling” and “pork-barreling,’” the lawsuit states.
The legislature voted in 2017 to put the proposed constitutional amendment before voters in 2018.
Issue 1 seeks to:
- Prohibit attorneys from charging clients more than 1/3 of the amount of money received in a lawsuit
- Establish a maximum dollar amount people can receive in lawsuits for non-economic damages and punitive damages
- Allow legislators to change the limits to contingency fees, non-economic and punitive damages at a future date without another vote of the people
- Give state legislators the authority to set court rules and practices; and
- Lower the number of legislators required to approve changes to rules established by the Arkansas Supreme Court.
“It is now time to let the voters decide the issue,” said Carl Vogelpohl, campaign manager for Arkansans for Jobs and Justice, a ballot issue group formed to support Issue 1. “Once again, trial lawyers are attempting to use the court to protect their own pocketbooks by seeking to deny Arkansas voters a voice.”
Unlike proposals from the public, legislative ballot measures are not reviewed by the Attorney General for problems with the title or wording.
Legal challenges are the only way to remove a proposal from the ballot, so most ballot issues face lawsuits ahead of Election Day. Proposals from the legislature have not been as easy to remove as those from the public.
The deadline to register to vote in the November General Election is Oct. 8. Early voting starts Oct. 22 and Election Day is Nov. 6.
The Public Policy Center will publish a voter guide on all of the statewide ballot issues in September on its website, www.uaex.edu/ballot.