Arkansas AG rejects language for proposed ballot measure to protect access to government records


Little Rock, Ark. (AP) – arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin on Monday rejected language for a proposed ballot measure that would make access to government records and meetings a right protected in the state Constitution.

Griffin rejected language for a proposed Arkansas government transparency amendment that would have made it even more difficult for lawmakers to limit access to public meetings and records.

Griffin’s approval is needed before he can begin collecting the 90,704 signatures from registered voters needed to qualify for the ballot. Griffin cited “a lack of clarity on key terms” as the reason for the rejection, saying that terms such as government transparency and public records were never defined in the proposal.

“Your proposed text is based on words that are undefined and whose definitions would provide voters with serious grounds for reflection,” Griffin wrote to supporters.

Arkansas Citizens for Transparency, the group behind the measure, said in a statement that it was “shocked” by Griffin’s decision and said he was seeking a definition standard that other constitutional rights do not have.

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“The Constitution does not define freedom of speech, free exercise of religion, or the right to bear arms,” ​​the group said. “Our Attorney General’s opinion indicates that the right to government transparency should be more restricted than our other rights in the Constitution.”

Democratic Senator Clark Tucker, who chairs the group’s drafting committee, said the group is exploring all options, including submitting a revised proposal, submitting multiple revised proposals and litigation. A companion ballot is pending before Griffin’s office.

Arkansas Citizens for Transparency formed after Republican Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed a law restrict release Records regarding his travel and safety. Sanders initially proposed broad exemptions limiting public access to records about his administration, but that proposal faced opposition that included media groups and some conservatives.

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