Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Initiative (2014)

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The Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Initiative may appear 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.[2]

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for a local option election (wet-dry election) to determine whether intoxicating liquors may be sold or not sold, are repealed to the extent that they conflict with the amendment.[3]

Support

This initiative is primarily being supported by Let Arkansas Decide (LAD). The organization has hired National Ballot Access for their signature gathering efforts.[4]

Supporters

  • Let Arkansas Decide!
  • David A. Couch, LAD treasurer and attorney[5]
  • Linda Bowlin, LAD director
  • Denise King, LAD director
  • J. Ross Jones, LAD director
  • Jeff Crockett, LAD director
  • Malinda Brinkmeyer, Tailgaters co-owner[6]

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.[6]

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.[7] 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.[8] The secretary of state will have until August 21, 2014 to certify ballot issues for the November general election.[9] 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.[10]

On July 18, 2014, Secretary of State Mark Martin announced that supporters were short by 17,133 signatures. However, they still have until August 18, 2014, to submit additional signatures to reach the minimum requirement.[11]

Deadline controversy

Opponents of the initiative, Let Local Communities Decide For Themselves, have asked the secretary of state's office to stop accepting further petition forms from supporters. They argue that the first batch of signatures should have been filed on July, 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 is currently reviewing the claim. If the secretary of state were to agree with the opposition's point and this initiative's signatures are invalidated, it would also affect the other potential initiative regarding the minimum wage which also submitted its first batch of signatures on July 7.[12][13]

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 describe 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.[14]

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 has argued that Amendment 51, which regards to voter registration, does not apply to initiatives or referendums.[14]

See also

External links

Additional reading

References


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