LITTLE ROCK — A proposed ballot item aimed at making it harder to amend the Arkansas Constitution cleared a Senate committee Tuesday in a procedure known as “signing out” after it failed in a traditional vote.
House Joint Resolution 1003 by House Speaker Jeremy Gillam, R-Judsonia, initially failed to receive the five votes it needed to clear the eight-member Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee.
After the meeting, five members of the committee agreed to sign out the measure, allowing it to advance to the Senate. The House approved the resolution Monday.
If placed on the November 2018 ballot and approved by voters, the measure would, among other things, increase the popular vote needed to amend the constitution from a simple majority to 60 percent; increase the legislative vote needed to refer a proposed amendment to the ballot from a simple majority in each chamber to a two-thirds majority in each chamber, and increase from 15 to 25 the minimum number of counties from which petitions must be submitted for a voter-initiated amendment.
The Legislature can refer up to three proposed constitutional amendments to the ballot every two years. Earlier in the session, lawmakers referred to the ballot a proposal to require voters to show photo identification at the polls and a proposal to cap damages and attorneys’ fees in civil suits and give the Legislature authority to amend, repeal and create court rules.