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Laws governing local ballot measures in Arkansas

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Laws Governing Local Ballot Measures

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All 576 counties and municipalities in Arkansas have an initiative and referendum process for local ballot measures. This article sets out the laws governing local ballot measures in Arkansas. It explains:
  • Which local units of government make the initiative process available to residents.
  • How and whether local units of government, including school districts, can refer local ballot measures (such as school bond propositions) to the ballot.
  • An overview of laws governing local recall elections.

Types of local government

Arkansas' local governments fall into the following categories:

  • Counties: there are 75 counties in Arkansas.
  • Municipalities: there are 501 municipalities in Arkansas. They are generally classified by increasing population as "incorporated towns," "cities of the second class," and "cities of the first class." In certain circumstances, cities may raise their classification by one level through a referendum vote (in the case of towns) or a local ordinance (in the case of second class cities). State statutes provide for municipal charters, but no cities have yet adopted one.[1]
  • In addition, there are 727 special districts and 239 independent school districts.[2]

School districts

See also: School bond and tax elections in Arkansas

In Arkansas, school bond and tax elections are held under two circumstances: to exceed the debt limit provided in the Arkansas Constitution or, when there is a statewide referendum to increase or decrease the Arkansas 25 mill debt limit.

Local recall rules

The laws that govern the conduct of political recalls in Arkansas are Ark. Code §14-47-112, 14-48-114, 14-61-119 and 14-92-209. Under these statutes, the following elected officials are subject to recall:

  • Mayors
  • Members of board of directors
  • Commissioners of suburban improvement districts
For additional detail, see: Laws governing recall in Arkansas
Ballot Law Portal
Laws Governing Ballot Measures

Initiative process availability

Counties

All of Arkansas' 75 counties have an initiative process for ordinances.[3]

Municipalities

All of Arkansas' 501 municipalities have an initiative process for ordinances. Though none have yet been established, any future charter cities would have charter amendment by initiative.[3][4]

Authority

A guide to local ballot initiatives
Local Ballot Initiatives cover.jpg

Constitution

The Arkansas Constitution establishes local initiative for general law municipalities and counties. The details of the initiative process are partially laid out in the constitution. For counties, the remaining details are established by state statutes. Municipalities, however, are free to establish their own process consistent with the process outlined in the constitution.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Arkansas Constitution, Article 5, Section 1

Statutes

The Arkansas Code establishes an initiative process for counties consistent with the state constitution.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Arkansas Code, § 14-14-914 through § 14-14-919

In addition, the Arkansas Code contains a few provisions that also apply to local initiative, such as a sample petition form (§ 7-9-104, 106) and penalties for signature falsification or failure of an election official to perform their duties. (§ 7-9-103, 102)

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Arkansas Code, Title 7, Chap. 9

Initiative process features

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Source:Local Ballot Initiatives: How citizens change laws with
clipboards, conversations, and campaigns

General law jurisdictions

General provisions

County-specific provisions

City-specific provisions

Each city may establish its own procedures consistent with the general provisions of the state constitution.

Charter cities

At present there are no charter cities in Arkansas. As such, it is unclear how or whether the constitutional mandate for local ordinance initiative would apply to charter cities. Nevertheless, if any cities were to adopt a charter, they would be able to initiate charter amendments consistent with the following provisions:


Initiative in the top 10 most populated cities

List of Most Populated Cities in Arkansas
City[5] Population City Type Next election
Little Rock 195,314 General Law N/A
Fayetteville 75,102 General Law N/A
Fort Smith 87,152 General Law N/A
Springdale 71,397 General Law N/A
Jonesboro 68,547 General Law N/A
North Little Rock 62,886 General Law N/A
Conway 60,470 General Law N/A
Rogers 57,539 General Law N/A
Pine Bluff 48,339 General Law N/A
Bentonville 36,295 General Law N/A

The top 10 most populated cities in Arkansas are general law cities which have initiative processes subject to the constitutional requirements detailed above. Most of the city codes do not contain additional initiative provisions. The few that have added clarifying local laws are provided below.


See also

External links

References