Editorial: An effort to educate Tech voters

As November quickly approaches, residents of Russellville as well as others across the Natural State are preparing to cast their votes for the 2014 ballot measures. Consisting of five separate measures, the upcoming ballot will focus on a large range of issues, from minimum wage to a legislative approval board.

Regardless of the issues on this year’s ballot, a vote is quite literally useless if there is no understanding of the subjects under scrutiny. That being said, the purpose of this week’s editorial is inform the Arkansas Tech University student body of the issues for or against they will have the option of voting.

This year’s first issue is listed as the Arkansas Legislative Approval of State Agency Rules Amendment. According to the amendment, the new policy (if voted for and approved) will require legislative reviewing of all changes to rules belonging to state-level agencies. Currently, legislative boards are able to view changes made by state-level agencies, but the Supreme Court carries the final yes or no decision.

The second issue on the ballot involves all future ballot submissions in that, if approved, it will require all submitted ballot to have at least 75 percent of all necessary valid signatures but will allow an extended time period in which signatures can be gathered. As of this year, there are no minimum signature requirements, and there is a time limit of 30 days to submit the issue.

The third issue concerns how long legislators are allowed to remain in office. Should this issue be approved by voters, legislators will be allowed to remain in office for 16 years – double the time they are currently allowed to serve. Furthermore, it will create a seven-member commission, the members of which will work together to decide on the salaries of state elected officials.

Now, the fourth issue has been perhaps the most widely mentioned issue on this year’s ballot — the legalization of statewide alcohol sales, effectively making the entire state of Arkansas a wet (open liquor) region.

And last but not least, the fifth issue involves the raising of Arkansas’s minimum wage, which is currently $6.25 per hour. If voted for and approved by voters, the statewide minimum wage would be raised to $8.50 by 2017.

Now that each issue has been presented, the hope arises that Arkansas Tech students will be able to cast an informed, intelligent vote on this year’s ballot.