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Issues 4 & 5 Stricken; So Far, Others Remain

LITTLE ROCK – The state Supreme Court has stricken Issues Four and Five because of legal questions about their ballot titles, so any votes cast for them on November 8 will not be counted.

Issue Four would have limited the amount of damages that could be awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits.

Issue Five would have authorized private companies to open casinos in Washington, Boone and Miller Counties.

Ballots had already been printed before the court ruled, so voters will see the issues on their ballots when they go to the polls. However, no votes will be counted.

The court has approved Issue Six, a proposed amendment to legalize medical marijuana. Issue Seven, a second proposal to legalize medical marijuana, had not been decided by the court.

Issues One, Two and Three were referred to the ballot by the legislature and there have not been any legal questions raised about their ballot titles. Issue 1 is a proposal to extend the terms of county officials from two to four years.

If the amendment is approved the terms of these offices will be four years:  County Judge, Sheriff, Circuit Clerk, County Clerk, Assessor, Coroner, Treasurer, County Surveyor and Collector of Taxes. Anyone elected to those offices in November 2016, will serve out a two-year term. Beginning with the 2018 elections these county officials would have four-year terms.

Issue Two would allow the governor to retain his or her powers and duties when absent from the state. The lieutenant governor would assume the position of governor only if the governor were removed from office, died or became unable to discharge his or her duties.

Issue Three is a far-reaching economic development measure. It would allow cities and counties to use the bonding capacity of Amendment 62 for economic development projects. The list of eligible projects is lengthy and comprehensive.

It also would remove the current limit on the amount of Super Project General Obligation Bonds that may be issued under Amendment 82. The cap is now five percent of the state’s general revenue. If approved by voters, Issue Three would authorize the legislature to determine whether more incentives should be offered to industries wanting to build superprojects.

Also, Issue Three would clarify that cities and counties can appropriate funds from existing sales taxes for economic development organizations such as local chambers of commerce. Currently, 20 cities and 5 counties distribute revenue to local chambers of commerce and those appropriations have been challenged in lawsuits.

Deadline to Apply for Act 833 Fire Protection Grants

October 31 is the deadline to apply for state Fire Grants under Act 833 from the state Fire Protection Office in the Department of Emergency Management. Applications from local fire departments must be postmarked by the deadline to qualify for grants in the 2016 funding cycle.

For information contact the Fire and EMS Coordinator at 501-683-6700 or email kendell.snyder@adem.arkansas.gov.  There are changes in the application this year, so please read the guidance document carefully.

Act 833 of 1991 dedicates additional insurance premium taxes for improvements to fire departments. The purpose is to protect lives and property and reduce homeowner insurance rates throughout Arkansas.

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