by Max Brantley
I mentioned yesterday that a lawsuit was already cooking should the legislature pass a proposal being pushed by the two Arkansas casinos at West Memphis and Hot Springs to make it difficult to put initiated acts and amendments on the ballot.
Here's one reason why a lawsuit is likely. The pending Arkansas proposal would prohibit paying canvassers for signatures based on the number of signatures they gather. (This serves as a disincentive, because piece work, particularly in places where mass signatures can be gathered, is far more profitable.)
A federal judge in Colorado has ruled that a cap on the amount spent on signatures — never mind a prohibition — is unconstitutional.
Paul Jacob, who heads a group that favors the refendum process, has issued a news release calling attention to the ruling. His group has also sent it to Arkansas legislators for consideration on SB 821.
“We want legislators to know that Senate Bill 821 will violate the First Amendment rights of Arkansans to petition their government,” said Paul Jacob, president of Citizens in Charge and Arkansas native. “A federal judge just struck down a Colorado law as unconstitutional that is very similar to, but not quite as draconian as, Senate Bill 821.”
AMPLIFICATION: A lawyer for the Friday firm who is working on the legislation notes that appellate courts, including the 8th Circuit covering Arkansas, have upheld prohibition of payment by signature including in a case in which a pro-term limits group in which Jacob was involved participated.