Power grab hits the Senate today
SB 260 continues unconstitutional trek
Last week we brought you information about SB 260, which seeks to limit the direct democracy guaranteed to Arkansas citizens by the Constitution.
But worse than the outcome of the bill is the tactic they’re using.
The legislature is trying to change the Constitution themselves by passing a bill. But the Constitution is clear that only the PEOPLE can change the Constitution, and we do it at the ballot box.
How are we so sure this is a Constitutional change? Because the legislature referred a less extreme version of this to the people as a Constitutional amendment in 2019. And guess what? Arkansans voted against it in 2020 with 56% against. Now just 3 years later, they’re trying to sidestep the Constitution and the People’s NO vote by sneaking in a change legislatively.
But we see it.
This bill hits the Senate today.
You know what to do. Keep emailing. Keep calling. And always, do it with a kind spirit. People are people even when we disagree. We are so grateful to you for your support.
Here’s some of our recent interviews and testimony about SB 260 (testimony below).
Here’s a video from 2019 when this was referred out as a Constitutional Amendment, which the people rejected.
“It puts it [direct democracy] out of the reach of the common person.” - now Treasurer Mark Lowery
Our testimony against SB 260
One of the main pillars of Common Ground is protection of the power granted to the people of Arkansas through the Constitution, which is the people’s contract with their elected leaders.
This bill attempts to change the Arkansas Constitution. However, Section 5, Article 1 of the Constitution says this: “The people reserve to themselves the power to propose legislative measures, laws and amendments to the Constitution, and to enact or reject the same at the polls independent of the General Assembly.”
In layman’s terms, only the People through the ballot box are allowed to make amendments to the Constitution. But this bill attempts to do that through statute here in the General Assembly, circumventing that Constitutional requirement that the people make that choice.
Our Constitution clearly lays out the number of counties that signatures must come from and the percentage of signatures required.
This bill attempts to change that, both in the required number of counties and the percent of signatures per county.
In fact, this isn’t the first time the General Assembly has tried to change this part of the Constitution. An attempt to change this exact language was referred to the people by the General Assembly, and it appeared on the ballot in 2020, where it was rejected by the people of Arkansas with 56% against.
This legislative body has shown through that past action that it knows this is required to be referred to the people. Otherwise, this change would have been made by statute then, rather that referred.
I’ve heard it said by members of the Senate several times that Constitutionality of bills isn’t really your concern. But if protecting taxpayer dollars is your concern, then so is the Constitutionality of the bills you pass. This bill, if passed, will not stand. It will be struck down, but taxpayers have paid for a pointless defense. That’s money that could be going to fund education reform, fund the new crime lab we so desperately need, or to fund increased tax cuts.
I would ask that you uphold the Constitution you took an oath to, that you respect the power granted to the people through that Constitution, and that you protect the hard-earned dollars of Arkansas workers and the taxes they pay by voting against this bill.