Five issue items on Nov. ballot explained

Five issue items on Nov. ballot explained

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - There are several high-profile measures to decide in the upcoming November general election.

Voters will be faced with five issue items on the ballot, and before they head to the polls, Region 8 News wants them to be informed.

The two ballot initiatives, minimum wage and the wet/dry issue, could bring voters to the polls who usually do not vote.

"It's grave in its consequences, each of these," said Dr. Richard Wang, a political science associate professor at Arkansas State University. "Everyone has something at stake Nov. 4."

Issue number five would raise the current state minimum wage from $6.25 per hour to $8.50 per hour over three years. 

"This has a pretty good chance of passing," Wang said. "The Arkansas minimum wage is one of a handful that's below the federal $7.25."

Issue number four would legalize the manufacturing, transportation and sale of alcohol in the state of Arkansas.

"If it goes down, we'll be back to the status quo," Wang said. "But if it goes up, all 75 counties will become wet."

Dr. Wang said those issues are pretty straightforward, but the other three issues, the constitutional amendments, are more complex. 

"You're going to go in and you're not going to be able to decide on the spot," Wang said. "You listeners, you viewers must go instructed."

Issue number three would allow members of the General Assembly to serve two extra years, so a 16-year term, that can be split between the House and Senate. The constitutional amendment would also create an independent citizens commission to set legislator salaries.

"Today the constitution does that," Wang said. "This would radically alter that system and it's buried in here."

Issue number one states that legislators will have to review and approve administrative rules before state agencies can implement them.

"The legislative branch wants more powerful checks on the executive branch," Wang said. "The average voter is not going to care about it at all. It's really between the executive and legislative branches."

Issue number two would set a threshold of 75 percent of required petition signatures to allow additional time to collect them.

"It's going to put a little more of a barrier between the ballot and the interest groups trying to bring the issue," Wang said.

A USA Today and Suffolk University poll revealed a greater percentage of those surveyed said they would vote in favor of all five issue items.

"These ballot issues are tough," Wang said. "They're a challenge. So is it expecting too much from our voters that they come in instructed? I don't think so. I hope not."

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