Today’s the deadline for submission of petitions for initiated acts and constitutional amendments.
David Couch, a Little Rock lawyer, has submitted signatures to qualify a second medical marijuana measure, in the form of an amendment. An earlier measure, an initiated act, allows personal cultivation of pot, which Couch’s does not. His also limits the number of dispensaries in the state to 40 and commercial cultivation facilities to eight. He said he anticipated having at least 75,000 valid signatures among more than 106,000 submitted, which would leave him about 10,000 short of the 84,859 required, but he said he would need little of the 30-day cure period to obtain that many.
Expected later are petitions for an amendment to legalize three casinos owned by backers of the amendment and an amendment backed by the nursing home industry to cap damages for negligent treatment of nursing home patients at $250,000 and also severly limit attorney fees.
Here’s a summary of measures under consideration. The term limits measure won’t be submitted this year because the signature drive fell short.
FYI: Somebody asked how the measures would be presented on the ballot. Couch said the statute says the amendments referred by the General Assembly will be Issues 1, 2 and 3. The initiated constitutional amendments will be assigned numbers in the order certified — with a medical marijuana, casino and tort reform measures pending. Then would come the initiated act, the medical pot proposal already approved.
The legislatively referred amendments:
# 1) gives county officials four year-terms.
#2) Legalizes giving tax money to chambers of commerce, a practice held unconstitutional in a Little Rock, and expands the ability of the state to pledge general revenues to bond issues for private businesses.
# 3) Eliminates the old provision that says power devolves from the governor to lieutenant governor when the governor leaves the state. It predated telephones, computers, airplanes and the like.
UPDATE: Arkansas Wins, the campaign for three legal casinos, announced it had turned in 92,120 signatures and met the threshold in more than 15 counties, including those targeted for gambling halls. A release from Robert Coon, spokesman for the group, said:
“Our campaign has covered a significant amount of ground in a very short period of time and we look forward to receiving certification from the Secretary of State’s office. Should we fall short, we’re prepared to obtain the additional signatures necessary to qualify for the ballot during the 30-day cure period,” stated Coon. “We remain confident in our team and our strategy and believe that voters will recognize the value that passage of this amendment will bring to the state of Arkansas when they cast their ballots in November.”
The campaign for the amendment to discourage damage lawsuits, financed by nursing homes, came in last Friday with more than 130,000 signatures. The Secretary of State now must check the validity of signatures on the three petitions