An email reminds me that it’s always worthwhile to put in an editorial word against the three constitutional amendments referred to voters by the legislature. Strike them out by voting NO on all three.

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Issue 1 would raise the sales tax in 2023 by a half-cent and enshrine that $300-a-million-and-growing levy in the Constitution for improvident, unaccountable spending by the Arkansas Department of Transportation, beginning with at least $350 million to cover the cost overruns in the Big Concrete Ditch through Little Rock.

Issue 2 would abolish term limits.

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Issue 3 would disable the ability of voters to petition the government. A minimum wage increase? Medical marijuana? The legislature wants to make sure the people never speak again on such things as these.

As much as I oppose Issue 3, the Arkansas Press Association’s self-interest is too vividly on display in the ad it is encouraging the dwindling news”paper” industry to run against the measure.

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Yes, the amendment would eliminate the need to publish popularly referred amendments in at least one newspaper in every county, but that is the least of what’s wrong with this amendment. Given the new deadlines and stiffer petition requirements, there aren’t likely to be many of those to publish anyway.

The attack of the legislature on the people’s voice is the big problem, not its hit on the dwindling ad revenue of a dying industry.

Speaking of which: A question occurred to me the other day after reading about a legislative hearing on the push to cut government costs by shifting public notices from news”papers” to government websites.

I put quotes around “paper” because you are hard-pressed to find a daily news “paper” in Arkansas. I’d guess that on any given weekday, the number of actual daily papers printed in Arkansas is well under 50,000. The Democrat-Gazette claims as many as 100,000 on Sunday (down from more than a quarter-million in its heyday), but there aren’t many others still in print. I  understand and sympathize with newspapers wanting to hang onto lucrative public notice business, but the sad truth is that newspapers simply aren’t the standby and ubiquitous sources of information they once were. Circulation is tiny.

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In addition to government “transformation” specialists looking to move the public notice business onto public portals and the incursions that have been made into the once-lucrative classified business, I expect any day now for somebody to come up with a universal web portal for obituaries, attacking one of the last remaining newspaper revenue niches.