I recently taught a "voter education" class regarding the upcoming election. We discussed all of the candidates and amendments that will be on our ballot and I answered some general questions. I love this stuff and I was happy to be able to share the information with others. I have decided to post my notes here for anyone who would like to read it and become a more informed voter. I have compiled this information from a wide variety of sources. I have tried to include information that sets the candidates apart, rather than list the things they agree on. Let me know if you have any questions or if you would like me to email the file to you as an email attachment.
Issue #1- No
This measure seems like a good idea at first glance. Certainly we want to preserve our right to hunt and fish. However, when you think about it a little more, you realize that we already have the right to hunt and fish and the powers to regulate it lie with the Arkansas Fish and Game Commission. This is first and foremost unnecessary and doesn't belong in the constitution. Should we start creating thousands of amendments to specifically guarantee our rights to do all of the things we do on a regular basis?
My further concern with the amendment is that it paves to way for the judicial branch to have the ultimate authority over hunting and fishing rights. As a part of the constitution, and activist judge will be able to "interpret" it how he or she sees fit. This could be soemthing like "The white tailed deer population is shrinking...we need to ban hunting then for 10 years to ensure that future generations have the right to hunt deer". Or "The spotted owl population is being affected by all of the hunters...we need to prohibit hinting in a large portion of the state to preserve their habitat." These are just made up examples from my head, but much sillier things have happened. I just prefer the laywers and judges to NOT have the say on this.
Issue #2- No
It is unfortunate to have to vote no on this one. There is a law that says the the Arkansas General Assembly can only introduce three ballot issues per election. Well, apparently they wanted to do more than that this year, so they just too issue #2 and dumped three totally different issues into one. This makes it ridiculously complicated.
The first two parts have to do with change interest rate restrictions for lenders and for bonds. I probably would have voted yes for these two parts. HOWEVER, part three of issue #2 is a total deal-breaker for me.
Part three creates an amendment to allow the General Assembly to issue bonds (go into debt) to finance "energy-efficiency projects" without voter approval. Current law says that (in most cases) they have to get our permission before issuing bonds. So this would create an exception to that as long as the project is considered and "energy efficiency project". What is an energy efficiency project, you ask? Oh, that's left up to the legislature to decide? How much can they spend on these "energy efficiency projects?" Yep...that's up for them to decide too.
So this amendment would allow our senators and representatives to take on as much debt as they would like, as long as they can justify that the spending is for a "green" project. Sorry, I don't trust them with that kind of blank check.
Issue #3- Yes
This is the only one that I am voting for. Currently Arkansas is only able to offer incentives to lure businesses (and therefore jobs) to the state if it is a huge company. They have to plan to invest at least $500 million and hire 500 people. The proposed amendment would remove this threshold and allow incentives to be given to to smaller companies.
I think this is worthwhile spending. So they are only going to hire 300 people?...that's still a lot of jobs! It's a shame to have a rigid limit in place that prohibits us, as a state, from attracting moderately sized projects. We are losing this kind of business to surrounding states like Texas and Mississippi.
So those are my opinions in a nutshell. I have an opinion on everything :) Please let me know if you have any questions! And please vote on November 2nd! (or sooner if you like to vote early. Those who know me know I like to vote on Election Day! It's a fun holiday to me!)
Here are my notes...
-On Election Day @ your polling place