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Tuesday, September 23, 2014, 1:33 p.m.
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More time given for alcohol measure petitions

By The Associated Press

This article was published July 18, 2014 at 12:17 p.m.

LITTLE ROCK — Supporters of a proposal to expand alcohol sales in Arkansas are being given 30 more days to gather signatures after falling short in their effort to win a spot on the November ballot.

Secretary of State Mark Martin's office said Friday that the group behind the proposed constitutional amendment needs an additional 17,133 signatures from registered voters to be approved for the ballot. Proposed constitutional amendments need at least 78,133 signatures to go before voters.

The proposal would legalize alcohol sales in all 75 Arkansas counties. Currently, 37 counties ban alcohol sales.

The proposed amendment was one of two ballot measures submitted to the secretary of state's office earlier this month. Officials are still verifying the signatures for the other measure, a proposal to gradually raise Arkansas' minimum wage.

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Displaying 1 - 8 of 8 total comments

LR1955 says... July 18, 2014 at 2:34 p.m.

Wher can you go to sign ? A dry county ? Little Rock ?

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RBBrittain says... July 18, 2014 at 5:07 p.m.

@LR1955: Try your nearest Walmart; that's where I saw the petition. (Yes, that was in the Little Rock area; several dry counties including Faulkner, Saline & Craighead also have their own wet-dry petitions.) The backers' Ethics Commission report is as vague as possible (they claim no contributions except a minor one in-kind from their attorney, vs. a $20K loan from the company paying its solicitors), but the very fact that Walmart allowed them to solicit signatures in store entrances tells you who's behind it...

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RBBrittain says... July 18, 2014 at 5:42 p.m.

I should add that Walmart and (to a lesser extent) Kum & Go are financially backing the wet-dry petition drives in Faulkner, Saline & Craighead Counties. I haven't found any Saline County opponents on the Ethics Commission website, but the opposition in the other two counties appears to be funded by liquor stores in neighboring counties, including two rather obvious groups: the Conway County Legal Beverage Association (I kinda doubt they mean Coke or Pepsi) and the Greene County Beer Association.

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TheBatt says... July 18, 2014 at 6:04 p.m.

Walmart has been funding both initiatives very heavily. Don't let the "claims" and reports tell you otherwise.

I am disgusted by this - because it is an effort to end-run around the will of the voters in the dry counties. Using Faulkner country as an example - voters have repeatedly declined initiatives to turn "wet". So now the efforts are on getting the rest of the state to override the will of the people/voters of that (and the other) dry counties. Why should voters in Little Rock decide if Faulkner County will have liquor stores (including Walmart)? Shouldn't that be up to the people/voters of a particular county?

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RBBrittain says... July 18, 2014 at 6:24 p.m.

@TheBatt: First, the legislature ran the signatures needed on wet-dry petitions up SO high (38% of ALL registered voters in the county) that you need well over half the likely wet voters to sign the petition before you can even have an election. (Ordinary countywide initiatives only require 15% of the general-election vote for CIRCUIT clerk -- not even county judge.) It takes almost as many signatures to call wet-dry elections in Faulkner, Saline & Craighead Counties combined as it does to get the "all-wet" measure on the ballot statewide.
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Second, most of the dry counties voted dry back in the '30's, '40's & '50's, when the poll tax kept many blacks & poor whites away from the polls; the increased signature level came AFTER the poll tax was repealed by voters. I'm surprised there hasn't been any successful voting-rights challenges to the wet-dry laws.
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Finally, with all the liquor stores right at the county lines (some of whom are backing the dry campaigns in Faulkner & Craighead Counties) -- IIRC, all but two dry counties (Cleburne & Howard) border at least one wet county or state -- not to mention all the restaurants with private-club permits in dry counties (I've been to a few of those in Conway myself), the whole wet-dry thing has become so hypocritical that many believe it's a joke and a disgrace to Arkansas.

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AlvinH says... July 18, 2014 at 6:25 p.m.

where can anyone sign a ballot?

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DanWilliams says... July 18, 2014 at 7:58 p.m.

Faulkner County voted overwhelmingly to stay dry in the mid-1970's, well after any voting rights legislation. The major opposition to putting the question on the ballot again is the churches and the Central Baptist College administration, not the adjacent county liquor stores.

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FreeSpiritMan says... July 18, 2014 at 10:13 p.m.

I don't go to my Baptist church anymore, but I see plenty pew sitters at the liquor store, but they are requesting a Baptist window (drive up) be installed.

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