Oct. 18, 2017
More Groups Forming Around Court-Related Ballot Issue 
The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce announced this week the formation of a group advocating the passage of a constitutional amendment on the 2018 ballot. 

Arkansans for Jobs and Justice filed the paperwork necessary Monday to campaign in favor of SJR8, a proposed constitutional amendment from the legislature "c oncerning civil lawsuits and the powers of the General Assembly and Supreme Court to adopt court rules."

The ballot issue group is the first to file its intentions to support the measure. Three groups have filed to oppose the measure, including the recently formed Defending Your Day in Court.  

Ballot Issue Groups Related to SJR8
Date Filed
Amount Raised
6/6/17 Liberty Defense Network Brad Hendricks $259,005
7/17/17 Protect AR Families Adam Jegley
David Williams
Col. Mike Ross (Ret.)
10/6/17 Defending Your Day in Court Mark A. Bennett
Annabelle Imber Tuck
Paul Keith
David Williams
10/16/17 Arkansans for Jobs and Justice Randy Zook
David Wroten
Marvin Childers
Source: Arkansas Ethics Commission, Legislative Question Committee filings

SJR8 was referred to voters by the legislature. The measure is similar to Issue 4, an initiated amendment submitted by an organization that collected voter signatures to put the issue on the ballot. The Arkansas Supreme Court struck Issue 4 from the 2016 ballot just before Election Day after a lawsuit was filed challenging the proposal's ballot title. 

The 2018 ballot measure seeks to  establish a dollar limit for financial damages awarded in certain types of lawsuits, shift authority from the state supreme court to the legislature in setting court rules and procedures, and limit how much attorneys are paid in medical injury lawsuits. 

Supporters of these types of laws often use the phrase "tort reform" when talking about them.  In 2003, state lawmakers passed the Civil Justice Reform Act to change procedures related to civil lawsuits. The changes included revisions of rules regarding medical-injury lawsuits. Portions of the law were later found unconstitutional by the Arkansas Supreme Court, leaving the constitutional amendment process as the only way to make changes related to state compensation laws.

No Legislative Question Committee groups have filed with the Arkansas Ethics Commission in relation to a second constitutional amendment referred by the legislature.  HJR1016  would require citizens present photo identification when voting and for the state to provide photo identification to eligible voters free of charge. Groups that raise or spend money on the passage or defeat of a ballot measure are required to register with the Ethics Commission and file financial reports. 

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  publicpolicycenter@uaex.edu . Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Did you know?

June 6, 2018 is the deadline for ballot issue groups to publish their proposed ballot measure in a newspaper. 


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

Oct. 6, 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 because of ambiguities in the proposal, such as the use of "carry on," "carrying on," and "personal effect," according to Opinion No. 2017-103

This is the fifth time this proposal has been rejected. See Opinion No. 2017-097 (Sept. 22, 2017), Opinion No. 2017-093 (Sept. 6, 2017), Opinion No. 2017-084 (Aug. 4, 2017) and Opinion No. 2017-091 (Aug. 21, 2017). Mary L. Berry of Summit 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.