SEN. KEITH INGRAM: Aims to make popular initiatives more difficult.

Democrats can’t pass much in the Republican-majority legislature and let’s hope that continues with Sen Keith Ingram’s renewed effort to cripple the ability to put popularly initiated measures on the ballot. In that many corporate interests share Ingram’s anti-democratic view of the popular initiative, you never know.

It’s early and there will be many proposals for the three constitutional amendments that the legislature may propose. Ingram has a couple of proposals on the sufficiency of initiative petitions, including SJR 4. It would, among others, make stricter requirements on signature thresholds in the various counties, changing from 15 counties with minimums to one-fourth of the counties in each congressional district. 

But the real monkey wrench, says David Couch, the Little Rock lawyer who’s made something of a specialty of initiative campaigns, is that both amendments would give the legislature the future power to alter the Constitution when it comes to initiatives and referenda by a two-thirds vote. In short, the legislature would be free to strip the power from the people in ways we can only now dream.

Coincidentally: The chair of the Senate committee that reviews constitutional measures said in a letter disclosed yesterday that the legislature didn’t have the power to overrule the people and change the terms of the new casino amendment. Ingram’s proposals would change that dynamic dramatically.

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Keep an eye out.