On Wednesday of next week, the House Constitutional Issues Subcommittee will begin hearing proposed amendments to our state’s constitution.
Our state constitution was written in 1874. But a government’s needs can change over time. Arkansans have responded by approving 98 amendments.
In Arkansas, there are two ways to put an amendment before the voters. First, an individual or group can have the language of a ballot measure approved by the Attorney General and then collect the needed number of signatures.
The second way amendments are put forth is by the General Assembly. Article 19 of the Arkansas constitution allows either house of the General Assembly to propose constitutional amendments.
Just this week, we approved a measure to change the way we select which amendments will be put forward.
SCR2 specifies that the House will select one amendment and the Senate will select one amendment. It allows for a third amendment to be put forward only if 2/3 of both chambers agree. Previously, the State Agencies committees from both chambers would meet jointly to vote on proposed amendments and could refer up to three during a regular session.
Although amendments will still have to be approved by both chambers before heading to the ballot, this will allow each chamber to determine its own priority.
The deadline to file proposed amendments was on February 8. Twenty-two proposed amendments have been filed in the House. Fourteen proposed amendments have been filed in the Senate. Proposed amendments are filed as Joint Resolutions. Those from the House will be numbered as HJR (House Joint Resolution) and the Senate as SJR (Senate Joint Resolution).
The amendments we put forward in this session will appear on the ballot in November of 2018.
The issues for the proposed amendments vary greatly. We have posted a link to the resolutions on our website www.arkansashouse.org.