Deadline near for decision on ballot language for proposed constitutional amendment regarding Arkansas’ open records law | The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin is set to weigh in on Monday on ballot language for a proposed constitutional amendment to strengthen the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.

The proposed amendment is the first part of Arkansas Citizens for Transparency’s two-prong strategy to bolster the state’s sunshine law.

While most ballot question committees attempt to persuade voters to support or reject a single ballot measure, Arkansas Citizens for Transparency will ask voters to support two proposals — a constitutional amendment and an initiated act — to strengthen the Freedom of Information Act.

Griffin’s office has until the close of business Monday to accept, reject or rewrite the ballot language for the proposed amendment, and until Dec. 18 to do the same for the proposed initiated act.

“I call them the principles and the policy,” said former state lawmaker Nate Bell, chair of Arkansas Citizens for Transparency. “The amendment is the principles, the act is the policy.”

Bell is leading the effort with Little Rock attorney David Couch, a seasoned campaigner who wrote Arkansas’ constitutional amendments legalizing medical marijuana and raising the minimum wage.

Once ballot language is approved, the group will have until four months before the 2024 general election to collect 90,804 signatures for the proposed amendment and 72,563 for the proposed initiated act. The attorney general has 10 business days to accept, reject or rewrite the ballot language.

The group submitted the constitutional amendment to the attorney general’s office on Nov. 27 and submitted the initiated act Dec. 4.

Couch said putting the group’s entire plan to strengthen the Freedom of Information Act in a proposed constitutional amendment likely wouldn’t pass muster with the attorney general’s office, which must first sign off on ballot language before groups can begin collecting signatures for their petition. So instead, the group

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