Constitutional Amendment Proposals
Issue 1 - SJR10
Giving State Senators and Representatives the Authority to Call Special Legislative Sessions and Set the Agenda
Commentary: Currently, the Arkansas Assembly may not meet out of session, unless, the Governor requests a special session. This became an apparent problem at the beginning of COVID-19 when Governor Hutchinson took it upon himself to govern for the better part of a year with absolute executive discretion. He repeatedly declared a state of disaster and signed countless executive orders granting unprecedented authority to State agencies (specifically the Arkansas Department of Health), to strictly regulate, fine, and close businesses that did not follow CDC guidelines on masking and social distancing. When the legislature was eventually called into a special session they passed Act 403, this limited all Disaster Declarations by the Governor to a period of 60 days, and granted the legislature the authority to meet within 8 days of the declaration to vote on whether or not to approve the declaration. Issue 1, if passed would ensure our Assembly could meet whenever a 2/3 majority of its members voted to do so, and would ensure a continuous state of checks and balances as the people deem necessary.
Issue 2 - HJR1005
Constitutional Amendment and Ballot Initiative Amendment
Commentary: Currently, any effort to amend the AR State Constitution requires a simple majority vote by the people, far less then the 3/5 majority required under the US Constitution. This amendment would change the threshold from a simple majority to 60%. The purpose of the State Constitution, aside from recognizing our State and establishing its government, is to recognize and protect the rights of the people while applying limits to the authority of our government. Raising the threshold requirement for new amendments would ensure a greater consensus of the people is obtained before changes can be made. While this does make it more challenging to add new amendments, it also makes it more difficult to remove existing amendments which helps ensure that power rests with the people.
Issue 3 - SJR14
Arkansas Religious Freedom Amendment
Commentary: While the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution protects free speech (and subsequently religious speech), Religious Freedom is not currently protected under the AR State Constitution. This became an apparent problem during COVID-19 when Governor Hutchinson signed executive order 20-13 which applied limits to religious assembly, required churches to prioritize social distancing , and granted the Arkansas Department of Health authority to regulate church gatherings as the deemed "necessary" to "control" a public health emergency. This was an unprecedent power grab by our State Government. If this constitutional amendment passes, it would prohibit the government from undertaking similar actions to regulate churches and religious gatherings in the future.
An Amendment to Authorize the Possession, Personal Use, and Consumption of Cannabis by Adults, to Authorize the Cultivation and Sale of Cannabis by Licensed Commercial Facilities, and to Provide for the Regulation of those Facilities
Commentary: Marijuana growth, distribution, and use is currently prohibited under Federal Law, it is however legal under AR State Law for use when properly prescribed by a licensed medical provider for the treatment of a patient. This Constitutional Amendment, if passed, would prohibit the Arkansas Government from regulating and taxing marijuana use in any capacity. This would lead to a rampant increase in use and usher in all the problems that follow drug use including crime. Furthermore its well understood that marijuana is a gateway drug to other more dangerous illicit drugs.