In a few short months, Arkansans will be heading to the polls to cast a ballot for our next Governor, our U.S. Senator, our next Attorney General and many more state wide officers.
Arkansans will also be deciding who they want to represent their district in the state Capitol and in our nation’s Capitol.
Often times, when so many highly publicized campaigns are taking place, ballot issues can be easily overlooked. Amending our Constitution is not an issue to be taken lightly. So over the next few weeks, we would like to take the opportunity to tell you about three amendments you will see on the ballot that were placed there by the 89th General Assembly.
Article 19 of the Arkansas constitution allows either house of the General Assembly to propose Constitutional Amendments. The amendment requires majority approval of both houses, but limits the legislature to just three issues it can put on the ballot. The amendments must then win the approval of the majority of voters.
The 89th General Assembly referred to voters three proposed constitutional amendments for 2014. The first addresses rule changes by state agencies. The second addresses requirements for citizen lead initiatives. And the third deals with ethics and term limits. This week, we will explain Issue Number 1. In subsequent weeks, we will go into more details on Issues 2 and 3. Issue number 1 makes changes in the relationship between the legislature and our state agencies. Currently, when a state agency changes a rule or regulation they go before the Arkansas Legislative Council during the interim. ALC only reviews the rules made by state agencies. Their approval is not necessary for an agency to proceed with a change. To put this in some context, during a recent ALC meeting for rules and regulations, members reviewed 28 rule changes. Those included everything from the Department of Career Education changing the fees of GED testing to the Department of Health making changes to immunization requirements. If approved, Issue number one would require the committee’s approval before becoming effective. When this amendment was presented to members on the House floor, it was described as a “significant change” to the way we currently oversee state agencies. Remember that you have the final say in outcome of these proposals. Each of them will make a significant impact in the way your government operates. So please take time to study these issues before heading to the polls and make sure your voice is heard in November. You can find more information by visiting the Secretary of State’s website at www.sos.arkansas.gov.