Arkansas Farm Bureau has advocated for the agriculture industry and rural communities for nearly 90 years, and we represent more than 180,000 member families across the state. On November 8, Arkansas voters will be asked to cast ballots that would have an incredible impact on our state’s constitution.
Few of our state’s citizens may know that the current constitution, adopted in 1874, is actually the state’s fifth. It’s also the most significant. The cornerstone of that constitution, signed in the late 19th century, were the steps taken to transfer power from state government to local governments. The ballot issues reflect a similar crossroads of balancing power in government.
As a grassroots organization, guided by policy that is developed by our members at the county level, Arkansas Farm Bureau strongly believes in the power of local control. It’s for this reason that our members have taken an official position on Issues 1, 2 and 4.
Our constitution is sacred and the first lawmakers across this state had a clear and present vision to ensure that consequential decisions stay in local communities. We ask that you consider the magnitude of these proposals and oppose Issues 1 and 4 while supporting Issue 2.
Issue 1 would allow the Arkansas legislature to call themselves into special session, changing the current system that only allows the sitting governor to call a special session. Our organization opposes Issue 1 because it would limit the number of Arkansas citizens who have time to serve and threatens the balance of power between the branches of government.
Issue 2 would require a 60% vote to approve a ballot issue and our organization supports a more stringent process because we believe amending our constitution should meet a higher threshold than a simple majority.
Issue 4 would legalize recreational marijuana in the state and our organization opposes production or use of recreational marijuana in Arkansas. In November 2016, Arkansas voters approved medical marijuana by a slim margin and now more than 95,000 Arkansans have been granted access to medical marijuana.
If approved, Issue 4 would bring concerns of workforce challenges for farmers and ranchers already burdened with labor issues. Compounding that would be detrimental to our state’s top industry.
Finally, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has presented data that shows car crash rates have spiked in other states that have legalized recreational marijuana. These are statistics that have a real impact on every Arkansan’s insurance premium at a time when most pocketbooks can’t take another price increase.
Farm Bureau members define our organizational policies as part of a year-long, grassroots policy development process. These policy positions were developed and implemented with significant and thoughtful input from our members, and we stand behind that policy.
This Op-Ed is written by Stanley Hill, Vice President, Public Affairs & Government Relations of Arkansas Farm Bureau.