August 18, 2017
2018 Ballot Issue Spending Underway
Spending on 2017 statewide ballot measures across the United States is on pace to surpass the total amount of expenditures in 2015. Ballotpedia has tracked approximately $31.25 million in contributions to campaigns involved in the 23 ballot measures certified for the 2017 ballot. The majority of that money is being spent on four citizen measures in Ohio, Maine and New York. 

Arkansas doesn't have any ballot measures this year, but Legislative Question Committees are starting to form and raise money on 2018 ballot measures in the Natural State.

In July, Protect AR Families formed to advocate against SJR8, a constitutional amendment referred by the legislature that seeks to establish limits on how much money can be awarded in some types of lawsuits and would give legislators with the authority to set court rules. 

As of Aug. 15, Protect AR Families has raised $163,974 for its efforts. A similar group formed in June called Liberty Defense Network. In filings with the Arkansas Ethics Commission, Liberty Defense Network reported raising $109,000 and spending $82,045 of that already on polling data, consulting and a website. 

Arkansas' 2016 legislative measures attracted $438,920 in campaign spending, with most of that money spent in support of Issue 3 (An Amendment to the Arkansas Constitution Concerning Job Creation, Job Expansion, and Economic Development).

It's likely more money will be raised and spent on  Arkansas' two ballot measures from the legislature  than the three legislative issues in 2016. 

More than $2 million was spent on Arkansas' citizen-initiated  medical marijuana amendment campaign. That $2 million was part of about $1 billion in contributions to ballot measure campaigns nationwide in 2016, according to Ballotpedia. Citizen initiatives and veto referendums pulled in more than $936 million in contributions in 2016 across the country.

As of August, only one citizen group has approval from the Attorney General to collect signatures for a potential 2018 ballot measure. It involves term limits.  The deadline for citizen-led proposals is not until next summer. 

Get Engaged. Get Informed.

The Public Policy Center has published nonpartisan fact sheets on Arkansas' statewide ballot issues since 2004.  We welcome your questions at . Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Did you know?

Voters in Baxter County go the polls Sept. 12, 2017. They are voting on a temporary county-wide sales tax and a permanent county-wide sales tax for the county jail. The two countywide sales taxes are separate from a Mountain Home tax proposal also on the ballot that day. You can find a Public Policy Center fact sheet on the Baxter County sales tax election  at .


LegislatureLegislative Ballot Issues

Legislators are able to refer up to three constitutional amendments to the voters every general election. These two proposals will be on the Nov. 6, 2018 ballot.

SJR8 - An Amendment Concerning Civil Lawsuits and the Powers of the General Assembly and Supreme Court to Adopt Court Rules.

Read SJR8

Sponsor:  Sen. Missy Irvin

HJR1016 - A Constitutional Amendment Adding as a Qualification to Vote that a Voter Present Certain Valid Photographic Identification When Casting a Ballot In Person or Casting an Absentee Ballot.

Read  HJR1016

AGLooking Forward - Potential 2018 Ballot Issues from Citizens

Attorney General Opinions

The Attorney General is responsible for reviewing the language and titles of potential ballot issues submitted to voters by the public. Ballot issue groups can circulate petitions only after the Attorney General verifies that the ballot title and popular name honestly, intelligibly and fairly describe the purpose of a proposed constitutional amendment or act. The following are recent Attorney General opinions regarding potential ballot issues:

Ballot proposals rejected

Aug. 4, 2017 -  The Arkansas Recreational Marijuana Amendment  - A proposal seeking to legalize the cultivation, production, distribution, sale, possession and use of marijuana and products for recreational purposes was rejected without comment, according to Opinion No. 2017-084 . Attorney General Leslie Rutledge wrote that the proposal was nearly identical to one she rejected July 21 from a different individual and that the two authors needed to submit a single proposal for her office's review. Mary L. Berry of Summit submitted the measure. 

July 21, 2017 - The Arkansas Recreational Marijuana Amendment of 2018 - A proposal seeking to  legalize the cultivation, production, distribution, sale, possession and use of marijuana and products produced from it for recreational purposes was rejected because of ambiguities in the text of the proposal, according to Opinion No. 2017-081. Larry B. Morris of West Fork submitted the measure. 

Ballot proposals approved for signature gathering

Oct. 28, 2016 - Arkansas Term Limits Amendment - A proposal to reduce the number of years a state senator or representative can serve in office was certified for signature gathering, according to Opinion No. 2016-105. The proposal would institute six-year terms for representatives and eight-year terms for senators, with a maximum of 10 years total. The proposal would return Arkansas' term limits to what they were before a voter-approved change in 2014 that extended terms.  Thomas Steele of Little Rock submitted the measure.