Dec 6, 2023 - News

Group files proposal to put sunshine law on Arkansas ballot

Photo: Courtesy of Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin's office

Arkansas Citizens for Transparency this week submitted a ballot title and popular name for the "Arkansas Government Transparency Amendment."

  • It's a companion to a proposed amendment submitted last week that would create a right to government transparency.

Why it matters: The state's Freedom of Information Act protects the public's right to access many government documents and is frequently used to hold officials accountable for taxpayer dollars.

Flashback: As part of an extraordinary legislative session this year, Arkansas lawmakers proposed changes to the state's FOI law that would have greatly reduced what documents could be seen at the request of Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

  • After pushback from both Democrats and Republicans, the proposals were narrowed to only include the security detail of the governor and constitutional officers.

Of note: Records requests led to the discovery that the Sanders administration paid $19,000 for a lectern in the so-called Podiumgate scandal.

Details: The proposed amendment makes three main changes to the state's constitution:

  • Creating the right to government transparency in Arkansas.
  • Requiring a law that makes government less transparent to be approved by the people of Arkansas, with an exception for emergencies.
  • Allowing Arkansas to be sued in state court for failing to comply with transparency laws.

What we're watching: Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin has until Dec. 11 to approve or reject an amendment ballot title, and until Dec. 18 to approve or reject the proposed citizen-initiated act, Arkansas Advocate reports.


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