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Group asking for ballot amendment sues attorney general in Arkansas Supreme Court

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(The Center Square) – A group that wants to make it tougher for lawmakers to change the state’s Freedom of Information laws is suing the attorney general for rejecting the ballot question.

The question proposed by Arkansas Citizens for Transparency would require two-thirds of lawmakers to agree to put any changes to FOIA laws before the voters. Any immediate changes “necessary for the preservation of the state’s public, peace, health, and safety” could be passed if nine-tenths of the Arkansas Legislature agrees. But the citizens could reject the changes in the next election cycle.

Attorney General Tim Griffin’s office, which must approve ballot questions, rejected it on multiple occasions. In his latest rejection on Jan. 8, Griffin said the measure lacked clarity on key terms and a clause in the ballot title summarizes “something that does not appear in your text.”

Supporters of the ballot question said in Tuesday’s lawsuit filed in the Arkansas Supreme Court that Griffin is failing to do his duty as attorney general.

“The objections raised by the Attorney General are outside of his statutory duties and infringe on the constitutional right of the Petitioner to place an amendment that it wants to put on the ballot and not one that it is forced to change by the Attorney General either negligently or intentionally exceeding his statutory authority,” Arkansas Citizens for Transparency said in the lawsuit.

The group asks the court to compel Griffin to accept the ballot question.

“The Petitioner will be irreparably harmed by not having adequate time to collect the required number of signatures of registered voters needed to submit the measure to the Secretary of State by July 5, 2024,” the group said in its lawsuit. “The Petitioner cannot begin collecting signatures until such time as the Attorney General approves the ballot title.”

Griffin said on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, that he doesn’t reject ballot questions based on his personal views.

“When reviewing proposed ballot initiatives, I follow an 80-year-old process. The law does not allow me to consider my own personal views,” Griffin said in the Tuesday afternoon post. “I am guided by the law and the law alone. I routinely certify proposals I personally oppose. Conversely, I routinely reject proposals I personally support.”

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