Deadline for statewide initiatives today

Today is the deadline to file statewide initiative measures with the Arkansas Secretary of State's Office in order to place an issue on the November 2014 General Election Ballot.

Medical marijuana, minimum wage increases, and making Arkansas a wet state are all issues that voters may see on the ballot in November.

Two potential statute initiatives may appear on the ballot as well as three potential constitutional amendments. These initiatives will be included only if petitions received the required number of voter signatures and all the paperwork is filed on time.

The first of the potential state statutes in the minimum wage initiative which, if passed, would increase the state's minimum wage from $6.25 to $8.50 per hour by 2017. A total of 62,507 signatures were needed to place the item on the November ballot and supporters announced at the beginning of June that they had collected between 72,000 and 75,000 signatures.

The second state statue is the medical cannabis act which would legalize medical marijuana in Arkansas. This item is sponsored by Arkansans for Compassionate Care, sponsor of the 2012 medical marijuana measure that failed by less than 2 percent of the total vote.

The first of the potential constitutional amendments is the hemp and cannabis amendment aimed at legalizing the cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, sale, possession and use of cannabis in Arkansas. This initiative does include a preemption clause, which means that even if the measure is passed during the General Election it could not take effect unless federal laws regarding cannabis are changed.

The number of signatures needed for a constitutional amendment is 78,133, but the attorney general did not certify the initiative for petition circulation until June 4, giving supporters a little more than a month to collect the required signatures.

The second constitutional amendment, if passed, would legalize the manufacture, transportation and sale of alcohol statewide. This initiative is primarily supported by Let Arkansas Decide, an organization that hired National Ballot Access to collect signatures. Currently 35 of Arkansas 75 counties are dry.

Let Arkansas Decide turned in more than 84,000 signatures to the secretary of state's office to put its proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot Monday. The secretary of state's office will spend the next few days conducting an initial count of the signatures.

The final potential constitutional amendment would amend term limits to establish four-year terms for county judges, justices or the peace and other officers. If approved, the term of office for county judges, justices of the peace, county sheriffs, county collectors, county treasurers, circuit clerks, county clerks, county coroners, county surveyors and constables would be extended from two to four years. The change would begin with any officials sworn in after Dec. 31, 2014.

If all of these initiatives receives the required number of signatures from registered voters and the paperwork by the end of the workday today, the secretary of state's office will have until Aug. 21 to verify the signatures and certify any ballot issues for the November election .