Audio – Senator Keith Ingram Reporting News From 92nd General Assembly
April 18th, 2019 • News

April 18, 2019

  • From the beautiful and quiet hallways of your historic state Capitol, this is Senator Keith Ingram.
  • In 1789, when the United States Constitution was ratified, the first 10 amendments were also ratified.
  • Since then, only 17 additional amendments have been added, for a total of 27 amendments. The 27th and most recent amendment to the U.S. Constitution came in 1992. It limits the ability of Congress to raise Congressional salaries.
  • The Arkansas Constitution has an entirely different history. Our state constitution was ratified in 1874, and although it has been in place for a much shorter time period than the U.S. Constitution, it has been amended 100 times.
  • What a contrast! The U.S. Constitution has been amended 27 times in 230 years, while the Arkansas Constitution has been amended 100 times in 145 years.
  • Arkansas voters have the opportunity next year to make our state Constitution more consistent, by raising the standards for amending it. The legislature referred to the ballot a proposal to make changes in how amendments are added to the constitution.
  • One goal is to prevent out-of-state special interests from purchasing their way into the Constitution, which should be a foundational document that outlines our basic democratic beliefs.
  • If approved by voters next year, the requirements for gathering signatures on petitions would change.
  • Citizens’ groups would still be required to submit the same number of signatures to get a ballot issue approved, but they would have to submit those signatures in January rather than in July.
  • Legal challenges would have to be filed in April. Now, due to the later deadlines, legal challenges continue almost up to election day, and often are not decided by the Supreme Court until after ballots have already been printed.
  • That would change if voters approve the new petition procedures.
  • A major difference would be the repeal of the current 30-day “cure” period. When groups fail to submit enough valid signatures, they’re granted an additional 30 days to gather more. It’s a system that has been abused in the past.
  • Another significant change is that valid signatures must be gathered in at least 45 of the 75 counties in Arkansas. Now, the requirement is 15 counties. In other words, a special interest group would not be able to concentrate on just a few populated areas to collect signatures.
  • Finally, the legislature itself would be held to higher standards. In each regular session we can refer up to three proposed amendments, by a simple majority vote. If voters approve the new standards, it will require a supermajority of 60 percent for legislators to refer amendments.
  • From the Capitol, it is always my greatest honor and most sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Keith Ingram.
      Click to Listen - Audio Recording from April