by Max Brantley
Andrew DeMillo tweets that Nancy Todd turned in more than 80,000 signatures (needing 78,133) for the constitutional amendment she's promoting that would grant four exclusive casino permits to a company operating under her name. She's told me previously that she's working for Branson, Mo., businessmen, who underwrote the drive to get the necessary signatures. Alex Reed of the secretary of state's office said Todd claimed 80,373 signatures.
There'll be a preliminary count to confirm her total and then a verification process during which Todd can continue to gather signatures. The Southland casino in West Memphis has so far been the primary opponent to the effort, but others may join in time. Religious groups will oppose it, as always.
The casino amendment gives expansive power to the winner of the permits and severely limits what the legislature may do. The amendment also designates the tax rate and beneficiaries. I'd think a legal challenge might also await if the measure does qualify.
ALSO ON THE PETITION FRONT: Sheffield Nelson has scheduled a 1:30 p.m. news conference when he turns in signatures for the gas severance tax initiative. He has said his group has more than then 62,507 needed. His group used paid canvassers and Arkansas Municipal League volunteers. The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, with $1.5 million from the gas industry, has been trying to discourage signatures. They may attempt to make a legal case about representations made by canvassers gathering signatures.