Slate of Legislative Ballot Issues Set for 2020 Ballot
Arkansas' 2019 legislative session is wrapping up this week, and legislators identified the last of the three constitutional amendments they're referring to voters on the 2020 ballot.
The Arkansas Constitution allows legislators to refer up to three amendments to voters every general election.
Issue numbers haven't been assigned yet to the three measures, so we'll refer to them in order of when legislators referred them. We will publish our neutral voter guide on these proposed amendments along with any that come from the citizen-initiated process closer to Election Day 2020.
Continuing Sales Tax for Road Construction
HJR1018: An Amendment to the Arkansas Constitution Continuing a One-Half Percent (0.5%) Sales and Use Tax for State Highways and Bridges; County Roads, Bridges and Other Surface Transportation; and City Streets, Bridges, and Other Surface Transportation After the Retirement of the Bonds Authorized in Arkansas Constitution, Amendment 91.
Lead Sponsor: Rep. Jeff Wardlaw
The Department of Finance and Administration prepared a Legislative Impact Statement on the proposal, which seeks to continue an existing one-half percent sales tax.
Historical context: Voters in 2012 passed a half-cent sales tax for road construction in the state, for highways and local roads. Read our 2012 fact sheet on the proposal, which the legislature placed on the ballot. Voters approved the measure, creating Amendment 91.
Changing Legislative Term Limits
Lead Sponsor: Sen. Alan Clark
Historical context: Voters in 2014 approved a constitutional amendment involving ethics laws for state legislators. The amendment also contained a provision extending existing term limits to 16 years in either the House or the Senate. Opponents of the issue called the provision sneaky since people might not have known from the ballot title that the state already had term limits. Voters have voted on the issue of legislative term limits three times in the past 30 years. For more information about those historical votes, read our 2018 fact sheet on Issue 3 (which was struck from the ballot before Election Day).
Changing Citizen-Initiated Ballot Issue Process
Lead Sponsor: Rep. DeAnn Vaught
Vote: The Senate approved referring HJR1008 to the ballot by a vote of 25 yeas to 10 nays. The House approved referring the constitutional amendment by a vote of 68 yeas to 20 nays.
Historical context: Arkansas is one of 18 states where the state constitution allows citizens to refer their own constitutional amendments to voters on the general election ballot. For constitutional amendments, ballot issue groups have to gather signatures from voters equaling 10 percent of the number of people who voted for governor in the last election. For state laws, they have to collect signatures equaling 8 percent of the people who voted for governor. Supporters typically collect more than 90,000 signatures since many are invalidated due to collection errors or people not being registered to vote. Arkansas voters last approved changes to the petition signature process in 2014. For more information about that process, read our 2014 fact sheet.