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Deadline grows nearer for petitions


As summertime community events are underway, you may notice canvassers offering up several petitions to be signed wherever crowds gather. There are several such petitions going around currently and they are intended to put issues on the November ballot where they can be decided on by voters throughout the state.
In order for the petitions to be successful, they must meet a minimum number of valid signatures from registered voters in each county, as well as a strict set of guidelines for formatting. The minimum number of signatures required for 2024 are 90,704 for initiated constitutional amendments; 72,563 for initiated state statutes; and 54,422 for veto referendums.
The petitions are due to be submitted by July 5.
Not all Arkansans want to see the issues on the ballot, however. Conservative group, Family Council, and other such groups are also out at public events, alongside petition hosts, where they are encouraging voters not to sign the petitions. Family Council has also recently published the names of canvassers who are hosting petition signings.
Walmart heir and Arvest Bank CEO, Jim Walton, donated $500,000 to a group working to defeat a proposed educational rights amendment. The interest groups and individuals like Walton seek to prevent the issues from showing up on November's ballots at all by discouraging petition signing through "decline to sign" campaigns.
Below is a summary of issues that Arkansans have proposed for the ballot. Signing a petition for these initiatives does not count as a vote for the acts or amendments, it only counts as a vote to put the issues on November's ballot where it can then be decided on by all voters in the state.
Right to Abortion Initiative
A proposed constitutional amendment that would prohibit the state from enacting laws or policies restricting abortion access within 18 weeks from conception; or in cases of rape, incest, or fatal fetal anomaly; or when abortion is needed to protect the life or health of the mother.
Medical Marijuana Expansion Initiative
A proposed constitutional amendment to expand access to medical marijuana. The expansion would allow medical marijuana patients to grow marijuana; allow physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, and pharmacists to certify patients; expand qualifying medical conditions; allow patient assessments through telemedicine; accept out-of-state medical marijuana cards; and allow adults to possess up to one ounce of marijuana if federal law changes to remove marijuana from the schedule of controlled substances.
The “pink tax”
Formally known as “An Act to Exempt Feminine Hygiene Products and Diapers from Sales and Use Tax,” this proposed state statute would exempt menstrual period products — tampons, pads, etc., and diapers for children and adults from local and state sales tax. Currently, only 20 states charge tax on period products.
The Arkansas Educational Rights Amendment of 2024
This constitutional amendment would require private schools that get public funding to meet the same educational standards as public schools. It would also guarantee pre-K, after school care and other services. The measure is a response to Governor Sanders’ LEARNS Act voucher program.
The Arkansas Government Disclosure Amendment and Act of 2024
There are two separate petitions for this issue, one for the Act and one for the Amendment. Together, they establish and protect the right of the citizens of Arkansas to government transparency. They are heavily associated with the protection of Arkansas’ FOIA — Freedom of Information Act.
They will enshrine in the Arkansas State Constitution the definition of “government transparency” as the government’s obligation to share information with citizens or deliver information to citizens. They will ban state reps from passing a law about government transparency without citizens' vote and will ban lawmakers from changing transparency amendments that citizens approved. This initiative also confirms that the state may be sued for failure to comply with transparency law.

How to sign a petition

www.arcitizens4transparency.org has a calendar of opportunities to sign located throughout Arkansas. You do not have to sign in your county of residence — signing events normally have multiple petitions available to represent multiple counties. Make sure you sign a petition for the county you are registered to vote in, using the exact spelling and format of your name and address as it is written on your voter registration.