Challenge filed on usury amendment | Arkansas Blog

Challenge filed on usury amendment

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As hinted in an article earlier by Doug Smith, a lawsuit has been filed challenging proposed constitutional Amendment 2 on the November ballot. It is challenged primarily because it rolls up three separate proposals — to raise the interest ceiling on retail lending, to change the interest limit on government bonds and to provide a way to finance energy efficiency projects. The courts have generally frowned on combining multiple proposals in one amendment, but courts have also tended to give legislatively proposed amendments, as this one is, more deference than initiative proposals.

The suit, filed on behalf of a Jacksonville resident by lawyers Eugene Sayre and Christopher Brockett, also says the ballot title and amendment are defective because they don't inform voters that the usury limit would be increased to 17 percent, rather than a floating rate pegged to a federal benchmark that is currently much lower, and that monetary damages for usurious interest would be removed from the Constitution.

Said the suit: "The brazen attempt by the General Assembly to get around the three proposed constitutional amendment limitation ... is sufficient reason for this court to order issue No. 2 to be stricken from the Nov. 2, 2010 general election ballot..."

The filing takes the form of a petition to the Arkansas Supreme Court to enjoin the secretary of state from putting the measure on the ballot.

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