CFA reviews your 2016 Ballot Issues

Conduit For Action
Analysis of 2016 Ballot Measures
Voting date November 8, 2016

 

 Introduction

As we sat down to summarize these seven ballot measures Arkansans will vote on in the November general election, we realized a common theme– special interests serving their individual desires for control of dollars.

ballotWith that said, there is no shortage of information on these measures such as the actual text of each from the Arkansas Attorney General’s website[i], and a well written unbiased guide published by the UA Division of Agriculture.[ii]

The poster child for self-serving legislation is among the three constitutional amendments referred by the 2015 General Assembly, another Issue 3–from Senator Jon Woods (and friend Rep Lance Eads as a co-sponsor who is an employee of the state Chamber of Commerce.)[iii]  This is one of the most fiscally irresponsible pieces of legislation to come out of Arkansas.[iv] 

Rather than calling it “Ethics Reform,” this year’s Issue 3 has the catchy title–“Job Creation and Economic Development.” (Never mind there are few unemployed in our state[v] and government will never create jobs.[vi])  The basic point of the amendment is to allow Arkansas to borrow an unlimited amount of money to give to any private business those in power deem worthy…with the Arkansas taxpayer on the hook for the debt.

Then there are the other four measures from special interest groups—mostly from outside our borders.  Their positions are understandable.  These groups invest millions to change our laws for their expectation of great financial returns—while appealing to our sympathies, vices, and to the state’s desire for more tax dollars with promised government expansion through regulation.  (Freedom of speech rightly allows this practice.)

On the flip side, we were confronted with the realization that grass-roots groups had proposed more than fourteen ballot measures which never made it.[vii]  The single difference in who gets on the ballot is money.  The grass-roots groups did not have the funds to make it happen.  This begs the question, “Who will continue to pay to keep us free?”

Fighting physical battles against foreign enemies is no longer all there is to maintaining our freedom.  When someone else is in control of our money, we have no freedom or liberty or justice for all.  Now to the details.

 

The ballot issues.

ISSUE 1 – Terms lengthened from 2 to 4 years for some county officials while preventing them from running or being appointed to another government position during the 4 years.  (From Legislature—Rep Jack Ladyman/Amends Constitution.)

  • AGAINST since we are in favor of keeping public officials responsive to the public.
    • Argument: The current two-year terms for county officials help keep the officials responsive to the public.  We see no reason to lengthen the terms since the current terms have not caused any problems. Two-year terms are better for small business interests.  (The legislature did protect their “own turf” to some degree in this measure.)

 

ISSUE 2 – Governor retains powers when out of state. (From Legislature—Sen Eddie Joe Williams/Amends Constitution.)

  • FOR since modern technology makes it practical to retain powers when absent.
    • Argument: Consistency in power of officials within their term is best for small business interests.  (Note this Amendment still flavors a special interest.)

 

ISSUE 3– Removes caps on state bonds (borrowing) and allows lower level government bonds (borrowing) to give tax dollars to private business, individuals, and specifically the Chambers of Commerce, etc. in the name of “Economic Development.”   (From Legislature—Sen Jon Woods/Amends Constitution with Legislature power to change.)

  • AGAINST since makes available from all levels of government unlimited taxpayers’ dollars to private businesses, individuals, and Chambers while allowing unlimited debt on the state and local governments to be paid by taxpayers.
    • Argument: To avoid large debt and giving away taxpayer dollars to government friends is always best for small business.
      • CHOSES ONE PRIVATE BUSINESS TO BENEFIT FROM ANOTHER COMPETING TAXPAYERS’ PROFITS—UNPRECEDENTED PRIVATE MONEY GRAB WHILE AUTHORIZING UNLIMITED DEBT FOR STATE.
    • UCA’s Arkansas Center for Research and Economics says, “…It provides Arkansas officials an avenue to gamble limitlessly on economic development projects with the backing of the citizens of Arkansas.”[viii]

 

ISSUE 4– Sets limits of one-third (1/3) of recovery for attorneys’ fees in medical injury cases and limits pain and suffering recovery to $250,000 maximum with powers to amend by majority of state legislature. (From special interests–nursing homes/Amends Constitution with Legislature power to change.)

  • AGAINST since sets too low a maximum value on the life or injury of a human and misses many elements of reform needed. Carves out medical injuries for special treatment.
    • Argument: Even though the health care industry is a member of AR small business, the minimal dollar value placed on human life in this bill overshadows its worth to small business in AR.
    • Although legal reform is necessary and proper, it should include a higher maximum in extreme cases, include loser pays, address class action reform, and rest adjustments with the people rather than legislators.

 

ISSUE 5– Establishes three additional gambling casinos in AR—Boone, Washington, and Miller Counties. (From special interests—existing casino owners mostly out of state/Amends Constitution with Legislature power to change regulatory and tax piece.)

  • AGAINST since it is an amendment to the state Constitution which favors three named privately selected businesses to operate casinos in the state. (Note:  opposition is financed by other gambling interests currently operating in AR.)
    • Argument: Gambling is a heavily regulated vice and promises large tax revenues to the state.  The state of AR should support business it does not have to regulate and which does not take its profits off the back of the poor.  If the state wants to recover from the poor a portion of its subsidies, it is best to reduce welfare benefits on the front side—that would be our preference–smaller government.  See effect on the area of Tunica closing.[ix]
    • The state is the largest gambling operation under the guise of education. A poor return considering damage caused by this vice. Unlimited gambling as a principle of freedom is a better choice than selective state directives.

 

ISSUE 6– Legalizes marijuana use under the guise of “medical” need while giving state the carrot of sales tax increase and adding regulation powers.  (From special interests—a select few owners to control 4-8 growing locations and 20-40 dispensaries/Amends Constitution with Legislature power to change regulatory and tax piece.)

  • AGAINST since it is an amendment to the state Constitution which:
    • Disguises recreational use of marijuana as medical need;
    • Pain or nausea are two of the multiple qualifying conditions;
    • Entices the state to favor it in exchange for tax dollars and regulation;
    • Places great financial benefit in the hands of the few in control of the new legalized closed market;
    • Grants privileges to users and penalizes businesses if they fire or discipline employees –due to their marijuana use.
      • Argument: Bad for business, as use of marijuana is a known deterrent to incentive to work, productivity, responsiveness, and contrary to some federal hiring regulations.

 

ISSUE 7– Legalizes grow-your-own marijuana under the guise of “medical” need while giving state the carrot of tax increase and adding regulation powers. (From special interests—including out of state; potential for more dispensaries but forces government to be a player and pay for the marijuana for the poor/State Law with Legislature power to change regulatory and tax piece.)

  • AGAINST since it is a state statute which:
    • Disguises recreational use of marijuana as medical need (more than #6);
    • Entices the state to favor it in exchanged for tax dollars and regulation;
    • Places the state as responsible for providing marijuana to the poor;
    • Allows anyone living 20 miles from a dispensary to grow their own;
    • Grants privileges to users and penalizes businesses if they fire or discipline employees –due to their marijuana use.
      • Argument: Bad for business, as use of marijuana is a known deterrent to incentive to work, productivity, responsiveness, and contrary to some federal hiring regulations. Tax dollars paying for marijuana for poor and what many consider destructive behavior.

To Summarize

If you cannot remember which if any of these are good—a “NO” vote for all is the safest route.

 

 


 

[i]http://arkansasag.gov/opinions/index.php  search under “Ballot title 2016”

[ii] http://www.uaex.edu/business-communities/voter-education/ArkansasBallotIssuesVoterGuide-2016-Final.pdf

[iii] http://www.conduitforaction.org/sponsoring-legislation-to-bankroll-your-employer-and-to-support-your-job/

[iv] http://www.conduitforaction.org/most-financially-irresponsible-constitutional-amendment-in-arkansas-history-issue-3-of-2016/

[v] http://www.ncsl.org/research/labor-and-employment/state-unemployment-update.aspx

[vi] http://www.conduitforaction.org/government-and-jobs-economic-development-101-2/

[vii] https://ballotpedia.org/List_of_Arkansas_ballot_measures

[viii] http://uca.edu/acre/2016/09/27/issue-3-unleashing-economic-development-bonds/

[ix] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/01/us/harrahs-tunica-casino-to-close-hinting-at-gambling-glut.html?_r=0