Republican Rep. Aaron Pilkington introduced today his promised legislation to alter the brand-new Amendment 100 to move one of the two newly authorized casinos from Pope to Johnson County.
Pope County residents have been resisting a casino there. Johnson County says it would be happy to have it.
Legal opinion is split over the legislature’s ability to amend any constitutional amendment, particularly this one. Voters said they wanted new casinos in Jefferson and Pope counties. What’s not to understand about that? Some think because you can alter a referred act by a two-thirds legislative vote, you may also do the same with a constitutional amendment. That question gets a lot more complicated.
Pilkington lays out the arguments in his proposed legislation. Part of it rests on the notion that the Arkansas Supreme Court, in one of its most unfortunate decisions in years, has made it almost impossible to sue the state legislature for its actions.
Here’s a problem that the Pilkington argument presents if the legislation passes and the inevitable lawsuit results: If successful, it means the legislature by two-thirds vote could rewrite any amendment approved by the people. Could it then rewrite the judicial article that is causing the legislature so much heartburn and which the Supreme Court has tried to protect? To name but one complication, along with higher education and highway department independence and lots more.
UPDATE: Sen. Breanne Davis (R-Russellville), meanwhile, has introduced legislation aiming at requiring a special election before there could be a casino in Pope County. This, too, raises legal questions as to constitutionality.