This week I am going to provide you with some results on the ballot issues that Arkansans voted on this past election. Issue 1 was a 0.5% sales tax for state, county and city roads. Issue 1 passed by a vote of 55% for (644,647 votes) to 45% against (521,335 votes). Issue 1 passed in every county except Cleburne, Pulaski and Randolph counties.
With passage Issue 1 the state’s sales tax rate of 6.5% doesn’t change. This sales tax is expected to generate $293.7 million a year in revenue. Of that, $205.6 million would be allocated to the State Highway and Transportation Fund, $44 million to cities, and $44 million to counties according to an impact statement written by the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration about the amendment.
Issue 2 which ends lifetime term limits for state legislators and allows legislators to run for re-election after a break in office passed. Issue 2 passed by a vote of 55% for (632,874 votes) to 45% against (510,556 votes). Issue 2 passed in every county except Columbia, Lawrence, Prairie, Pulaski and Randolph counties. The changes contained in Issue 2 will take effect in January 2021. Future legislators will be limited to serving 12 years in a row, but they would be allowed to serve again after a four-year break. Current legislators and those elected this week can still serve 16 years. They will then fall under the new rules and be eligible for re-election.
Issue 3 which sought to increase the number of votes required in the legislature to refer constitutional amendments to voters failed. Issue 3 would have also made several changes to the citizen initiative process in Arkansas.
Issue 3 failed by a vote of 44% for (491,905 votes) and 56% against (623,760 votes). Issue 3 had proposed the following: increasing the number of counties where voter signatures on petitions must come from, eliminating the ability to gather additional signatures after initial petitions are submitted, moving up voter petition submission deadline, and setting a deadline for filing lawsuits to challenge statewide citizen initiatives.
Issue 3 also sought to allow the legislature to change publication requirements for legislative ballot titles. Issue 3 failed in every county except Chicot, Crittenden, Cross, Miller, and Sevier counties. This issue had the most voter “roll off,” where voters skipped the issue completely. 80,537 people who voted in the general election skipped over issue 3.
The Public Policy Center at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture has provided neutral, research-based facts sheets on every statewide ballot issue since 2004. The purpose is to provide voters with a better understanding of what is being asked of them.
For more information on the Public Policy Center please contact The Newton County Extension Office at (870) 446-2240. Remember to check out our Facebook UAEX Newton County Extension Agriculture News.
Newton County Ag-Extension Agent-Staff Chair