We've already discussed Arkansas Ballot Issues 1 and 2, which voters will decide in the November election.
Now we turn our attention to Issue 3.
In most states, including Texas, new laws or changes to the state constitution must originate in the Legislature.
But in some states like Arkansas, citizens can initiate such changes. They can write a proposal and gather signatures in support to have the matter place before voters.
It's not easy now, but if Issue 3 is approved, that ability will become much harder.
Right now, petitioners must collect signatures from a required percentage (based on the votes in the most recent election for governor) of registered voters in at least 15 counties for the petition to be valid.
Issue 3 would raise that requirement to 45 counties. It would also require a three-fifths vote from the state House and Senate to get an initiative on the ballot, up from the current simple majority. And it eliminates the 30 days afforded petitioners to gather more signatures to replace those deemed invalid and cuts the time allowed to file the petitions with the Arkansas Secretary of State.
The proposal is being sold as a way to keep special interests from outside the state from putting things like legal recreational marijuana or expanded gambling on the ballot.
It would do that. But it would also hamper grassroots citizen initiatives as well.
Essentially, Issue 3 takes away power from the citizens and invests more with lawmakers. Arkansas voters should understand what they would be giving up should they vote to approve Issue 3.