Proposed Changes to Wet-Dry Voting

February 28, 2007 - Posted at 6:44 p.m. CST

JONESBORO-The number of registered voters required to petition the wet-dry issue could be dropping from about 20,900 to around 8,250, in light of a State House Bill proposed by a Jonesboro Representative.

"All referendums whether you are for them or against them should have the right to be heard on equal footing," said Craighead County Judge, Dale Hass.

That's just what State Representative Ray Kidd of Jonesboro is trying to do.

On Tuesday he filed House Bill 2242 in hopes of making it a bit easier to get the wet-dry issue on the ballot, but the county judge says it's not about the wet-dry issue at all.

"Referendums should be the same as far as the percentage of qualified voters signing the petition to get the issue on the ballot for everybody on every issue, whether we are for an issue or not," said Hass.

The Bill would reduce the number of signatures needed to get a wet-dry issue on the ballot from 38 percent to 15 percent.

15 percent is the number needed for all other initiatives.

"One of the things that concerns me is that if you lower the number of signatures, the percentage of signatures required to get it on the ballot, you are going to see it on the ballot more often," said Steve Jacobson, Pastor of Friendly Hope Baptist Church.

Pastor Jacobson says, with recent events in Jonesboro, this couldn't come at a worse time.

"I don't think the attitude of the people right now is going to necessarily going to be sympathetic to making it easier to have an explosion of liquor outlets in the county," said Jacobson.

However, those who operate alcohol selling establishments say the Bill could be a good thing when it comes to solving the conflict as to whether or not a private club should be allowed in a dry county.

"I think once and for all we can settle this argument and i'm all for it. I think it's the honest way to do it, and the fair way for everybody," said Piero Trimarchi, owner of Piero's Downtown Bistro.

He says it's time the people decide what they want.

"I think it's wonderful. I think it's way past due. This should have been done a long time ago," said Trimarchi.

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