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After multiple rejections, Arkansas AG certifies 8k-word ballot title to repeal LEARNS Act



Little Rock, Arkansas – The state’s attorney general certified the more than 8,000-word ballot title on Monday after twice rejecting an organization’s bid to put a referendum on the ballot in Arkansas asking voters to overturn Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ reforms to the state’s education system.

Attorney General Tim Griffin stated in a press statement that the proposed referendum by the Citizens for Arkansas Public Education and Students, or CAPES, satisfies the requirements for certification under the law.

Griffin continued by stating that just because a title is certified does not indicate that it satisfies all legal standards, including that it is not overly long or complicated.

The attorney general claimed that this ballot title would be “by a large margin” the longest in Arkansas history with 8,154 words and 16 pages.

“The Court has cited length and complexity as major factors in rejecting ballot titles with 550, 587, 709, and 727 words,” Griffin said. “The Arkansas Supreme Court will be the sole arbiter of whether this ballot title is too lengthy and complex if it is challenged at a later stage in the referendum process.”

Griffin has officially certified CAPES’ ballot initiative to repeal Act 237 of the Arkansas Legislature, sometimes known as the LEARNS Act, and CAPES can start collecting signatures.

To be included on the ballot for the following election, they must amass more than 54,000 signatures from 50 counties by the end of August.

The governor ran on LEARNS, according to Sanders’ communications director Alexa Henning, and “promised to deliver bold, transformational reforms to our education system.”

“It’s ironic the same opponents of LEARNS that complained about reading 144 pages of a bill, now submitted a ballot title of more than 8,000 words, the longest in Arkansas history,” Henning said in a tweet. “The radical left are playing political games with our kids’ futures and sowing turmoil in schools.”

Following the news of the certification, CAPES encouraged all Arkansas citizens to actively participate in the democratic process and sign the petition so that voters would have the “opportunity to approve or reject this underfunded and sometimes unfunded law designed to harm our most vulnerable schools.”

“I am incredibly proud of the hard work of our team and getting the approval from the Attorney General’s office,” CAPES’ Chair Veronica McClane said in a statement. “While I am excited to move forward with getting signatures for our petition, I am also disappointed the Attorney General feels our ballot title will be rejected by the Arkansas Supreme Court, even though he has the right to amend our submission as needed. The people deserve to be heard on this important issue, and we will continue to work to make that happen.”

A judge in Pulaski County temporarily banned the Arkansas LEARNS Act after siding with the program’s opponents who claimed lawmakers didn’t follow the proper processes to promptly implement the law.

Those opposed to the measure claim that by failing to vote separately on the “emergency clause” that permits the law to go into effect right away, the legislature broke the Arkansas Constitution. The measure cannot go into force until later this summer without that provision.

The Arkansas Supreme Court indicated they would swiftly hear an appeal of Judge Herbert Wright’s judgment on Friday even though they declined to halt his order stopping the state from implementing LEARNS.

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