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Reject These 4 Proposed Amendments (Editorial)

2 min read

The Arkansas Constitution has been amended more than 100 times. This year’s proposed amendments — Issues No. 1, 2, 3 and 4 — give voters no reason to change it yet again.

 Issue No. 1 would give the Legislature, whose members voted to place it on the Nov. 8 General Election ballot, the power to call itself into special session at any time. Currently, only the governor can authorize a special legislative session. The state Constitution calls for the Legislature to meet every year. More than that, unless authorized by the governor, is a terrifying prospect.

 Issue No. 2 would increase the percentage of votes required to pass most ballot issues from a simple majority — 50% plus one — to 60%. This is an attack on majority rule. Is the state Constitution too easy to amend? Yes, but taking power from the people isn’t the fix.

 Issue No. 3, the “Arkansas Religious Freedom Amendment,” is unnecessary. The state Constitution, not to mention the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as well as a host of other state and federal laws, already protects the free exercise of religion. 

 Issue No. 4 would legalize recreational marijuana. Although we don’t necessarily oppose the legalization of recreational marijuana, we do oppose this effort. It would grant, if not a monopoly, then at least a huge head start to the existing medical marijuana cultivators and dispensers who were granted their licenses in a process that has been riddled with allegations of impropriety from the very beginning.

Polls show a slim majority of Arkansans support Issue 4, and we know that support generally for legalizing recreational cannabis is growing. But Issue 4, which codifies in the state Constitution a deeply flawed process, is not the way to do it.

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