Welcome news. A group has formed to fight Issue 3, the business lobby/Republican amendment proposed by the legislature to make it just about impossible for average people to petition for amendments and initiated acts.

Without that right, Arkansas today would have a lower minimum wage and medical marijuana would be illegal, to name two. But for legislative obstacles created by the same dark forces, voters this year could have considered a proposal to end gerrymandering and to assure majority rule in state elections.

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The news release:

A group fighting to maintain Arkansas’s current ballot initiative process formally announced its campaign today. The ballot question committee, Protect AR Rights, is working to oppose Arkansas Ballot Issue 3 to ensure that everyday citizens maintain the right to have a say in creating and shaping the policies that matter most to them.

“State legislators created Issue 3 in an attempt to take away voters’ rights to petition our government. The current ballot initiative process protects the rights of Arkansans who want a say on the issues that matter to them,” said Kristin Foster, Committee Chair of Protect AR Rights. “If Issue 3 passes, only politicians and wealthy special interest groups will be able to put forth ballot measures in the future, taking the Constitutional right to direct democracy away from everyday Arkansans.”

If approved by voters in November, Issue 3 would more than double the minimum number of counties where signatures must be collected for statewide ballot initiatives, from 15 to 45 counties. The proposal would also decrease the length of time citizens can collect signatures for ballot measure petitions by about six months, adding yet another barrier to signature collection. Issue 3 would allow only the biggest, multi-million dollar campaigns to succeed in moving their measures forward.

Protect AR Rights is led by representatives from Arkansas Advocates for Children and
Families, Arkansas Education Association, Arkansas Public Policy Panel, Arkansas Strong, Arkansas United, Citizens First Congress, NAACP Arkansas State Conference, League of Women Voters of Arkansas, and other interested individuals. For more information on Issue 3, visit protectarrights.org.

The group has filed organizational papers, but not yet disclosed any financial information. A committee pushing the amendment hasn’t disclosed much so far beyond the $9,000 initially contributed by the Farm Bureau, but it appears to be spending money. I wrote yesterday about an automated poll designed to push voters to vote for Issue 3, including by falsely saying the amendment is needed to prevent “mob rule.” Only to the Farm Bureau and their running dogs are the people a mob.,

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