Ballot Issues

Issue 1: Continuing a One-Half Percent Sales and Use Tax For the State’s Highway System, County Roads, and City Streets

Issue 1 is a proposed amendment to the Arkansas Constitution. In 2019 the Arkansas Legislature referred Issue 1 to the people for a vote. If passed it will continue the one-half percent sales and use tax that is set to expire in 2023. This proposed amendment to the Arkansas Constitution makes the one-half percent sales and use tax permanent. The tax revenue generated would be used for state, county, and city roads, streets, highways, bridges, and other surface transportation. The sales tax does not apply to food and food ingredients. The tax revenue shall be distributed to the State Highway and Transportation Department Fund, the County Aid Fund, and the Municipal Aid Fund.

Issue 2: Legislative Term Limits

Issue 2 is a proposed amendment to the Arkansas Constitution changing term limits for state legislators. In 2019 the Arkansas Legislature referred Issue 2 to the people for a vote. Issue 2 creates the “Arkansas Term Limits Amendment” and amends the term limits applicable to state legislators. Currently state legislators can serve up to sixteen years in a lifetime. Issue 2 would limit state legislators elected after 2021 to serve no more than twelve consecutive years. However, they would then be eligible for election to the state legislature after four years out of office from their last elected term.

Issue 3: Changing the Citizen Initiative and Legislative Referral Process

Issue 3 is a proposed constitutional amendment changing the process of citizen initiatives and measures referred out by the state legislature. In 2019 the Arkansas Legislature referred Issue 3 to the people for a vote. Issue 3 amends the process for the submission, challenge, and approval of proposed initiated acts, constitutional amendments, and referenda. If passed this constitutional amendment would require that a petition contain valid signatures equaling at least half of the required percentage of signatures from each of 45 counties compared to the current 15 county requirement. Issue 3 also requires a three-fifths vote of both chambers of the legislature in order for them to refer a proposed constitutional amendment to the voters. Issue 3 eliminates the option for petitioners to collect extra signatures for 30 days if the petition fails to meet the signature requirements, requires challenges to the sufficiency of any ballot measure to be filed no later than April 15 of the election year, and requires signatures for citizen initiative petitions to be submitted to the Arkansas Secretary of State by January 15 of the election year.

Issue 4: Changing the State Legislative and Congressional Redistricting Process

Issue 4 is a citizen initiated proposed constitutional amendment creating the Citizens’ Redistricting Commission that is responsible for drawing the district lines for federal and state offices. Under Issue 4 the commission would be comprised of nine commissioners replacing the Board of Apportionment and the state legislature’s responsibility of drawing federal and state district lines. The Board of Apportionment currently consists of the Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State. Maps would have to be approved by six of the nine members, and the state legislature would be required to approve up to $750,000 to fund the commission. As of August 27, 2020, Issue 4 has been struck from the ballot by the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Issue 5: Establishing Top Four Ranked Choice Voting Primary Elections and Majority Winner General Elections

Issue 5 is a citizen initiated proposed constitutional amendment changing how we vote in Arkansas. Issue 5 would create a top four ranked-choice voting system. During the primary all candidates from any party would appear on the ballot and the four candidates receiving the highest number of votes would proceed to the general election. The top four would then appear on the general election ballot regardless of party affiliation. Voters would then rank their top four candidates and the candidate receiving a simple majority would be the winner. If no candidate wins a simple majority the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. The people that voted for the eliminated candidate as their first choice would have their votes redistributed to their second choice. This process continues until one candidate earns a majority of the votes. As of August 27, 2020, Issue 5 has been struck from the ballot by the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Issue 6: Referendum on Act 579, the Practice Optometry

Issue 6 is a referendum petition seeking to overturn Act 579 of 2019. In 2019, the legislature passed Act 579 which amends the definition of the practice of optometry to allow optometrists to perform certain surgical procedures that currently are only performed by ophthalmologists. Act 579 authorized optometrists to perform injections (excluding intravenous or intraocular injections), incision and curettage of a chalazion, removal and biopsy of skin lesions with low risk of malignancy (excluding lesions involving the lid margin or nasal to the puncta), laser capsulotomy, and laser trabeculoplasty. These are procedures only ophthalmologists in Arkansas perform. A yes vote maintains Act 579 and a no vote repeals Act 579.