ISSUE NO. 1: (HJR 1027) Proposing an Amendment to the Arkansas Constitution Concerning the Terms, Election, and Eligibility of Elected Officials.
Family Council’s Summary: This proposed amendment would increase the terms for certain county officers from two years to four years. Under this proposed amendment certain county officers could not be appointed or elected to civil office during their elected term. The amendment also defines the term “infamous crime” for the purpose of determining eligibility to hold office. The amendment defines “infamous crime” as a felony offense; abuse of office or “tampering,” as defined under Arkansas law; or a misdemeanor offense concerning an act of deceit, fraud, or false statement.
ISSUE NO. 2: (SJR 3) A Constitutional Amendment to Allow the Governor to Retain His or Her Powers and Duties When Absent From the State.
Family Council’s Summary: This proposed amendment would allow the governor to retain his or her powers and duties when the governor is out of the State. Currently, these powers are transferred to the lieutenant governor when the governor is out of the State.
ISSUE NO. 3: (SJR 16) A Proposed State Constitutional Amendment Concerning Job Creation, Job Expansion, and Economic Development.
Family Council’s Summary: The stated purpose of this state constitutional amendment is to encourage job creation, job expansion, and economic development. Currently, the Arkansas Constitution limits the state government’s ability to borrow money by issuing bonds. This amendment removes those limits, allowing the state to issue more bonds, and it authorizes the General Assembly or local legislative body to levy taxes to retire bonds issued by local municipalities. The amendment also increases local government’s ability to engage in business-related activities, such as acquiring land via eminent domain and selling or leasing that land to private businesses. Once passed, the amendment lets the Arkansas Legislature change some of its definitions in the future upon a three-fourths vote of both chambers.
ISSUE NO. 4: The Lawsuit Reform Amendment of 2016: An Amendment to Limit Attorney Contingency Fees and Non-Economic Damages in Medical Lawsuits
Family Council’s Summary: This state constitutional amendment gives the Arkansas Legislature the constitutional authority to enact medical tort reform legislation. It would direct the Arkansas Legislature to cap the maximum amount of noneconomic damages a court can award in a medical injury lawsuit against a healthcare facility like a hospital or nursing home. Under this amendment the Arkansas Legislature likely would cap noneconomic damages at $250,000, because the amendment specifically does not allow the legislature to cap noneconomic damages any lower than that, and in the past the Arkansas Legislature has considered capping noneconomic damages in medical injury lawsuits at $250,000. This is a complicated issue, so here is a practical example of the effects this amendment could have: Under this amendment, the Arkansas Legislature could cap noneconomic damages in medical injury lawsuits at $250,000; if an elderly woman later died as a result of negligence in a nursing home, $250,000 likely would be all the nursing home could be forced to pay her family if her family sued the nursing home for its negligence. Under current law, nursing homes have been forced to pay millions of dollars to the families of victims of negligence in such lawsuits.
ISSUE NO. 5: An Amendment To Allow Three Casinos To Operate In Arkansas, One Each In The Following Counties: Boone County, Operated By Arkansas Gaming And Resorts, LLC; Miller County, Operated By Miller County Gaming, LLC; And Washington County, Operated By Washington County Gaming, LLC
Family Council’s Summary: This state constitutional amendment would open one casino in each of three counties: One casino in Boone County; one casino in Miller County; and one casino in Washington County. The amendment specifically names the company authorized to operate each casino in each county. The amendment does not authorize anyone else to operate a casino in these counties or anywhere else in Arkansas. The amendment henceforth requires Arkansas to let these casinos offer any form of gambling offered at casinos in Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, Tennessee, or Texas. The amendment permits the casinos to operate twenty-four hours per day, every day of the year, and it permits the casinos to sell or give away alcohol. The amendment also establishes a government commission called the Arkansas Gaming Commission to regulate casino gambling in Arkansas; each member of the commission will be appointed by the governor. The amendment explicitly directs the Arkansas Legislature to appropriate money for the commission’s operations. The amendment levies taxes on the casinos, but it prevents the Arkansas Legislature and local city or county governments from imposing any additional taxes on the casinos.
ISSUE NO. 6: The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment
Family Council’s Summary: This proposed state constitutional amendment lets people of any age who have at least one of 21 medical conditions use marijuana. Qualifying conditions include pain, nausea, or serious diseases like cancer. The Arkansas Department of Health must issue a marijuana card to any person with a written statement from a doctor. Marijuana cardholders may smoke marijuana and purchase or make marijuana-infused foods or drinks. The amendment does not let people grow marijuana at home. It lets 20-40 stores statewide sell marijuana and marijuana products to cardholders. The amendment authorizes 4-8 individuals to operate marijuana farms in Arkansas. Individuals can sign up to be “caregivers” for up to 5 marijuana cardholders. Caregivers can buy and transport marijuana and may be paid by the people they deliver it to. Marijuana cardholders cannot be discriminated against in employment, school enrollment, or housing, or be denied a license, certification, or accreditation, or have any privilege revoked for using marijuana. Growth and sale of marijuana would be overseen by a five-member marijuana commission, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, and the Arkansas Department of Health. The amendment taxes marijuana to offset the cost of administering the marijuana program; any leftover marijuana tax dollars would go to workforce and technical training programs and the State’s General Revenue fund. This amendment prohibits being impaired or under the influence of marijuana at work or school, and it prohibits marijuana use in public, but it does not define what it means to be impaired or under the influence. If passed, this amendment will become part of the Arkansas Constitution.
ISSUE NO. 7: The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act
Family Council’s Summary: This is a proposed state law lets people of any age who have at least one of 60 medical conditions use marijuana. Qualifying conditions include pain, nausea, or serious diseases like cancer. The Arkansas Department of Health must issue a marijuana card to any person with a written statement from a doctor. Marijuana would be sold at about 40 stores across the state. Marijuana cardholders may smoke marijuana and purchase or make marijuana-infused foods or drinks. Marijuana cardholders who live more than 20 miles from a marijuana store could grow up to 10 marijuana plants at home. The act allows some people to sign up as “caregivers,” and authorizes them to grow up to 50 marijuana plants for other marijuana cardholders if they live more than 20 miles from a marijuana store. Caregivers can grow or purchase marijuana, transport it, and be paid by the people they deliver it to. Marijuana cardholders cannot be discriminated against in employment, school enrollment, or housing, or be denied a license, certification, or accreditation, or have any privilege revoked for using marijuana. The Arkansas Department of Health would be responsible for overseeing marijuana in Arkansas. The measure taxes marijuana to offset the cost of administering the marijuana program; any leftover marijuana tax dollars would be used to provide free or discounted marijuana to the poor and homeless. It would be illegal to be impaired or under the influence of marijuana at work or at school, but the Act does not define what it means to be impaired or under the influence. The Act makes it illegal to use marijuana in public or at work or school. If passed, this Act will become state law and can only be changed by a two-thirds vote of the Arkansas House and Senate.