Three amendment issues on ballot

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Three constitutional amendment ballot issues will appear on the Nov. 2 general election ballot.

Issue 1 is an amendment to provide a constitutional right to hunt, fish, trap and harvest wildlife.

According to the University of Arkansas' Division of Agriculture Public Policy Center, the proposed amendment would establish that "public hunting, fishing and trapping shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling non-threatened species." It allows for use of traditional methods to harvest wildlife.

The amendment would not affect any powers of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission or any common laws or statutes regarding trespass, private property rights, eminent domain, public ownership of property or firearms unrelated to hunting.

According to the policy center, supporters say the amendment is needed to protect hunting, fishing, trapping and harvesting wildlife because animal rights organizations in other states have filed lawsuits and mounted advertising campaigns intended to influence public opinion against hunting and fishing.

The policy center found that individuals have been concerned about the need for the amendment because of the current constitutional status of hunting and fishing under the authority of the AGFC in Amendment 35.

Issue 2 is an amendment concerning interest rate limits and the issuance of government bonds to finance energy efficiency projects.

According to the policy center, the proposed amendments would remove all interest rate caps on bonds issued or loans made by governmental entities in the state of Arkansas. It would remove state imposed interest rate limits on loans made by the FDIC-insured institutions, subject to federal regulations which set the maximum rates of interest that may be charged. It would keep 17 percent as the maximum annual interest rate that may be charged on other loans or contracts but eliminate the cap of five percent above the federal discount rate. The amendment also would give authority to all governmental entities in Arkansas to issue energy efficiency project bonds, subject to be adopted by the General Assembly.

Issue 3 is an amendment to lower the threshold for issuing state bonds to attract major industries.

According to the policy center, the amendment would amend section (d) of Amendment 82 of the Arkansas Constitution to remove limits on the size of economic development projects that could be supported through the issuance of general obligation bonds.

Under Amendment 82, Arkansas can issue bonds for the purpose of providing infrastructure and other needs to attract prospective companies that plan to invest a minimum of $500 million and hire a minimum of 500 new employees.

The initiative would remove those limits to qualify for receipt of state bond based government support. It would allow the General Assembly to establish criteria for determining financing eligibility for economic development.

Supporters of the amendment say it will level the playing field with many of Arkansas' surrounding states whose economic incentive programs are not limited by such a high threshold.

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