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Attorney General of Arkansas
The Arkansas Attorney General is an executive position and constitutional officer within the Arkansas government. The Attorney General is chief law enforcement and legal officer and lawyer for Arkansas. The position has a candidate of a particular party Republican or the Democratic who is elected every four years e.g. 2006, 2002 along with the Governor.
The Attorney general oversees serveral departments which include:
- Civil Department: civil litigation and state agencies
- Community Relations: Crime Victims program, Missing Children's Services, Law Education Program, Keys to Safety Program, Youth Suicide Prevention
- Criminal Department: State briefs, Habeas Corpus
- Medicaid Department: Fraud
- Opinions Department
- This department is the most crucial to the initiative and referendum process and is detailed below.
- Public Protection Department: Consumer protection, utilities, environment, antitrust
Ballot Text and Legality
Proponents of the initiative must submit the original draft of the ballot to the Arkansas Attorney General. Attach to the draft the proposed legislative or ballot title and popular name. The Attorney General then has 10 days to approve and certify the ballot title and popular name or substitute and certify a more suitable title and name. If the Attorney General refuses to act, sponsors can apply to the Supreme Court for proper relief.
- In 1999 a law was enacted that any Arkansas taxpayer and voter may submit a written request to the Secretary of State to challenge the legal sufficiency of a statewide initiative petition. Within 30 days, the Secretary of State will consult with the Attorney General and then issue a declaration about whether the ballot title of the measure is fair and complete and whether it would violate any state constitutional provision or any federal constitutional, statutory or regulatory provision, or would be invalid for any other reason. The petitioner, sponsor, or Arkansas taxpayer may petition the Arkansas Supreme Court about the ruling within 15 days of the Secretary of State's declaration.
The Attorney General also writes an explanatory statement for all ballot measures that is published in the Voter Information Pamphlet. The statement is required to be an impartial explanation of the purpose of the ballot measures. It is also required to be written using easy-to-understand language.
The Attorney General is responsible for preparing formal, written opinions to the Governor, members of the General Assembly, prosecuting attorneys, heads of executive departments of the state, heads of state boards and commissions, and county boards of election commissioners on questions which pertain to their official actions or duties.
The Department is also responsible for initial approval of interlocal cooperation agreements responding to requests for Opinion pertaining to personnel records within three business days under the Freedom of Information Act and approval of popular names and ballot titles.
The Attorney General does not write opinions for private citizens, other private entities, or to local officials. Also the Opinions Department personnel only address official requests.
The Opinion's Department Statement of Purpose is as follows:
"The Arkansas Attorney General is charged by statute with the responsibility of providing written legal opinions requested by state officials. This includes constitutional officers, members of the General Assembly, prosecuting attorneys, heads of executive departments of the State, and heads of state boards and commissions. A.C.A. § 25-16-706. The purpose of the Opinions Department is to assist in fulfilling this statutory duty by preparing drafts of formal, written opinions. In addition to those mentioned above, opinions are also issued to county boards of election commissioners on election law questions. The Opinions Department is also responsible for approval of interlocal cooperation agreements, approval of popular names and ballot titles for initiatives and referendums of statewide impact, and responses to requests for opinions concerning the application of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") pertaining to the release of certain public employment records. While opinions of the Attorney General do not constitute binding law or precedent, they do provide a significant source of legal interpretation, often with respect to questions that have not been addressed elsewhere."
The Opinions Department is charged with the responsibility of responding to all the above requests in a timely and professional manner. Requests pertaining to personnel records under the FOIA must be answered within three working days, approval of popular names and ballot titles must be answered within ten working days, and the Department attempts to answer all other opinion requests within thirty days of receipt."
- Portions of this article were taken from Wikipedia on 8/8/07