Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Initiative, Issue 4 (2014)

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Issue 4
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Type:Initiated constitutional amendment
Referred by:Citizens
Topic:Alcohol
Status:On the ballot
2014 measures
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November 4
Issue 1
Issue 2
Issue 3
Issue 4
Issue 5
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The Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Initiative, Issue 4 is on the November 4, 2014 election ballot in Arkansas as an initiated constitutional amendment. The measure, if approved, would legalize the sale, manufacture and transportation of alcohol statewide.[1]

Background

As of 2014, Arkansas allows for county control over the prohibition of alcohol. The state is nearly evenly split on a county basis with 37 counties being dry and 38 being wet or mixed.[2] A mixed county is one where the county is wet, but a number of municipalities within the county may be dry. Arkansas is one of ten states that allows dry counties.[3]

The following is a map showing dry counties in red, wet counties in blue and mixed counties in yellow: Alcohol control in the United States.svg

Text of measure

The popular name given to this measure by the attorney general's office is "The Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Amendment."[1]

Ballot title

The ballot title given to this initiative by the attorney general's office is as follows:[1]

A proposed amendment to the Arkansas Constitution to provide that, effective July 1, 2015, the manufacture, sale, distribution and transportation of intoxicating liquors is lawful within the entire geographic area of each and every county of this state; that “intoxicating liquors” is defined for purposes of the amendment as any beverage containing more than one-half of one percent (0.5%) of alcohol by weight; that the manufacture, sale, distribution and transportation of intoxicating liquors may be regulated, but not prohibited, by the General Assembly; and that all laws which conflict with the amendment, including laws providing for a local option election (wet-dry election) to determine whether intoxicating liquors may be sold or not sold, are repealed to the extent that they conflict with the amendment.[4]

Support

This initiative is primarily being supported by Let Arkansas Decide (LAD). The organization has hired National Ballot Access for their signature gathering efforts.[5]

Supporters

  • Let Arkansas Decide!
  • David A. Couch, LAD treasurer and attorney[6]
  • Linda Bowlin, LAD director
  • Denise King, LAD director
  • J. Ross Jones, LAD director
  • Jeff Crockett, LAD director
  • Malinda Brinkmeyer, Tailgaters co-owner[7]

Opposition

Opponents

  • Let Local Communities Decide For Themselves
  • Arkansas Beverage Retailers Association
  • Pastor Revel Kidd

Pastor Revel Kidd from Hempstead County has opposed the legalizing of alcohol sales, saying it leads to problems for marriages and children.[7]

Lawsuit

Opponents of the measure filed a lawsuit over the petition signature deadline controversy, hoping to have the measure thrown off the ballot. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Citizens for Local Rights on September 5, 2014. The plaintiffs claim the state's petition deadline of July 7 was three days too late in order to be submitted at least four months before the election, as required by state law. Four months to the day before the November election was the Fourth of July, a national holiday. The plaintiffs also argue that the ballot title is insufficient.[8]

David Couch, an attorney who assisted Let Arkansas Decide in placing Issue 4 on the ballot, said, “In addition it has been the Secretary of State's standard practice since Amendment 7 went into effect in 1925 to roll the deadline for accepting petitions to the following business day. The Sponsor and the people of the state of Arkansas had a right to rely upon the Election Calendar and the nearly 100 year history of the Secretary of State's office in rolling the deadline until the next business day when the deadline was on a holiday.” However, opponents of the measure argued the deadline delay in light of holidays "is statutory law, not constitutional law."[9][8] The Arkansas Supreme Court scheduled oral arguments regarding the issue to be heard on October 9, 2014.[10]

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the Arkansas Constitution & Laws governing the initiative process in Arkansas

The attorney general approved the fourth attempt at ballot language for the initiative in May 2014.[11] To place an initiated constitutional amendment on the ballot, petitioners are required to submit signatures equal to at least 10 percent of the total number of votes cast for the office of governor in the last gubernatorial election. Further, proponents must collect signatures equaling at least 5 percent of the previous gubernatorial votes in at least 15 of the state's counties. For example, if 1,000 people voted for governor in a county, the signatures of 50 qualified electors would be required. This means supporters were required to collect a minimum of 78,133 valid signatures by July 7, 2014.

Supporters claimed to have turned in 84,969 signatures by the deadline.[12] The secretary of state will have until August 21, 2014 to certify ballot issues for the November general election.[13] The secretary of state's office announced on July 9, 2014, that well over 84,000 signatures had been submitted. This amount of signatures means the measure has met the initial signature requirement, and while the signatures had not been verified yet, it gave supporters another 30 days to collect more signatures, in case many were invalidated.[14]

On July 18, 2014, Secretary of State Mark Martin announced that supporters were short by 17,133 signatures. However, they had until August 18, 2014, to submit additional signatures to reach the minimum requirement.[15]

Supporters claimed to have gathered more than sufficient additional signatures on August 1, 2014. David Couch, chairman of Let Arkansas Decide, expressed absolute certainty that the measure will be on the November ballot. He claimed the group was then in possession of at least 30,000 additional signatures to make up the deficit in their original filing.[16] Supporters submitted an additional 41,492 signatures by the August 18 deadline. At least 17,133 of these must be deemed valid in order to land the measure on the November ballot.[17]

On August 29, 2014, the secretary of state announced that 87,102 of the 127,265 signatures turned in were valid, and that the measure qualified for the ballot.[18]

Deadline controversy

Opponents of the initiative, Let Local Communities Decide For Themselves, have the secretary of state's office to stop accepting further petition forms from supporters. They argued that the first batch of signatures should have been filed on July 4, which would have been four months prior to the November 4 election. The states's deadline was July 7. The secretary of state's office reviewed the claim. Had the secretary of state agreed with the opposition's point and invalidated this initiative's signatures, it would also have affected the other potential initiative regarding the minimum wage, which also submitted its first batch of signatures on July 7.[19][20]

On July 22, Secretary of State Mark Martin's office defended the signature filing deadline, saying that July 7 was set as the deadline because it was the first business day after July 4, a federal holiday. In a statement, Martin's office described the practice of rolling the signature deadline forward to the next business day if the original date falls on a holiday as "standard practice since Amendment 7 went into effect in 1925." However, the office also stated they would be reviewing the law to determine if there is an issue.[21]

Let Arkansas Decide chairman David Couch pointed out that Arkansas Code Annotated 7-1-108 and Amendment 51 both state, “If an election law deadline occurs on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the deadline shall be the next day which is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.” However, Let Local Communities Decide for Themselves attorney Elizabeth Robben Murray argued that Amendment 51, which addresses voter registration, does not apply to initiatives or referendums.[21]

See also

External links

Additional reading

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Attorney General of Arkansas, "Opinion No. 2014-049," May 19, 2014
  2. KTBS CW 21, "Mixed opinions on Arkansas statewide alcohol sales," June 17, 2014
  3. Washington Post, "Where in the United States you can’t purchase alcohol," September 2, 2014
  4. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  5. Hope Star, "Who is 'Let Arkansas Decide'?" June 9, 2014
  6. Arkansas Ethics Commission, " LOCAL-OPTION/BALLOT/LEGISLATIVE QUESTION COMMITTEE FILINGS: Let Arkansas Decide!" June 11, 2014
  7. 7.0 7.1 KTBS, "Mixed opinions on Arkansas statewide alcohol sales," June 17, 2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 Chron, "Lawsuit seeks to toss Arkansas alcohol proposal," September 5, 2014
  9. Hope Star, "Liquor suit draws intervenors," September 11, 2014
  10. Arkansas Online, "Oral arguments set over alcohol sales measure," September 11, 2014
  11. Talks Business & Politics, "AG McDaniel Approves Ballot Title For All Wet Counties," May 19, 2014
  12. The Bellingham Herald, "Minimum wage, alcohol sales petitions submitted," July 7, 2014
  13. Arkansas Secretary of State, "2013-14 Initiatives and Referenda: Facts and Information for the 2014 General Election," 2014
  14. Arkansas News, "Petition on statewide alcohol sales meets initial signature count," July 9, 2014
  15. Associated Press, "Arkansas alcohol, minimum wage ballot measures fall short of signatures; given 30 more days," July 18, 2014
  16. Arkansas News Bureau, "Sponsor of alcohol measure ‘100 percent’ sure Arkansas will go wet," August 3, 2014
  17. THV 11, "Group submits petitions to expand alcohol sales," August 15, 2014
  18. Arkansas Business, "Alcohol Amendment Will Be on November Ballot," August 29, 2014
  19. Associated Press, "Group Asks State To Block Alcohol Measure, Claims Deadline Missed," July 21, 2014
  20. Times Record, "Election 2014: Opponents Of Statewide Alcohol Sales Say Supporters Missed Deadline," July 21, 2014
  21. 21.0 21.1 Times Record, "Election 2014: Secretary Of State Defends Filing Deadline For Petitions," July 22, 2014