Ballot Issues

Issue 1: Legislative Sessions

This proposed amendment to the Arkansas Constitution was placed on the ballot by the Arkansas Legislature. Current law requires the Arkansas General Assembly to convene in a regular legislative session on odd numbered years and in a budget session on even numbered years. Current law also allows the governor to call the legislature into a special legislative session at any time for specific purposes. This amendment expands the authority to call the legislature into session through two other means. First, it allows the Speaker of the House and President Pro Tempore of the Senate to jointly call the legislature into session by written proclamation. The Speaker and the President Pro Tempore decide the purpose and the date of the extraordinary session. Second, it allows the legislature to call itself into session by the submission of a written proclamation containing signatures of two-thirds of the members in the House and two-thirds of the members in the Senate. The purpose for the session must be stated in the written proclamation, and the Speaker and the President Pro tempore decide the date of the extraordinary session. By a two-thirds vote, the legislature can expand the purpose and length of the session. The proposed amendment requires the legislature to make rules for these extraordinary legislative sessions. If passed, this amendment would take effect on November 9, 2022.

Issue 2: Constitutional Amendments and Initiated Acts

This proposed amendment to the Arkansas Constitution was placed on the ballot by the Arkansas Legislature. Current law says that amendments to the State Constitution and initiated acts will pass if they receive over 50% of the votes cast on the measure state-wide. Under this proposed amendment, State Constitutional Amendments and initiated acts would have to receive at least 60% of the votes on the measure state-wide to pass. If passed, this amendment would take effect on January 1, 2023.

Issue 3: The Arkansas Religious Freedom Amendment

This proposed amendment to the Arkansas Constitution was placed on the ballot by the Arkansas Legislature. Issue 3, The Arkansas Religious Freedom Amendment, guarantees that state and local laws will not infringe religious liberty. It enshrines protections for religious freedom into the Arkansas Constitution, and it gives people legal recourse if the government infringes their religious freedoms. This would provide protections for the free exercise of religion at the state and local levels. Issue 3 contains exceptions for rare situations in which the government may need to burden someone’s religious liberty to protect a compelling governmental interest—such as public safety or child welfare. In those instances, the amendment requires the government to use the least restrictive manner possible to burden a person’s religious liberty. The amendment applies to all state laws—including general laws that may not be intended to violate religious freedom. The measure requires courts to interpret its protections broadly to safeguard religious freedom as much as possible, and it contains language clarifying that the amendment does not in any way authorize the government to violate the freedom of religion. If passed, the amendment would take effect November 9, 2022.

Issue 4: The Arkansas Adult Use Cannabis Amendment

This proposed amendment to the Arkansas Constitution legalizes marijuana everywhere in Arkansas for persons age 21 and older. It lets license-holders cultivate, prepare, manufacture, process, package, deliver, and sell marijuana and all extracts, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and all other derivatives from the cannabis plant. It allows unrestricted amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to be injected into candy, cookies, and drinks and sold as edibles. It allows the sale of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in any form or concentration. Adults can purchase as much marijuana as they choose as long as they possess no more than one ounce at a time. Holders of a medical marijuana card can purchase an additional 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. One-hundred twenty dispensary licenses will be issued for selling marijuana at retail dispensaries. Dispensaries can grow up to 100 mature plants and they can process marijuana. There can be up to 20 marijuana cultivation facilities. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board would oversee it. Cultivation facilities would not be able to locate within 3,000 feet of a church, school, daycare, or facility for individuals with developmental disabilities. Retail dispensaries would not be able to locate within 1,500 feet of a church, school, daycare, or facility for individuals with developmental disabilities. The amendment repeals all taxes on medical marijuana. It sets a 10% state tax rate for recreational marijuana in addition to regular sales tax, and no more taxes can be levied on it by any government. The Arkansas Legislature is prohibited from regulating medical or recreational marijuana. The amendment prohibits local communities from regulating marijuana, including passing zoning ordinances or taxing it. Cities or counties can prohibit marijuana dispensaries by circulating petitions to bring it to a vote, but they can’t prohibit cultivation facilities. Owners of facilities in Arkansas do not have to be Arkansas residents. No criminal background checks are required for dispensary or cultivation facility employees. Background checks are also not required for owners who own less than a 5% interest in a marijuana business. Employers can restrict but not prohibit employee use. Property owners can prohibit smoking marijuana on their property. If passed by voters, this amendment will take effect on November 18, 2022.