At their Oct. 25 meeting, the Salem Chamber of Commerce members listened to a detailed presentation regarding issues that will be on the ballot in the upcoming election.
John Payne, public affairs educator with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, explained Proposed Constitutional Amendment 1 and Referred Question 1.
Amendment 1 would legalize bingo and raffles to be conducted by charitable organizations.
The amendment would legalize bingo and raffles that are operated by specified non- profit tax-exempt organizations that have been in existence for at least five years and will use the funds for religious, philanthropic or charitable purposes, according to Payne.
Though opponents of the amendment fear it will open the door to multi-million-dollar gambling enterprises that are run by national companies, Rep. Shirley Borhauer of Bella Vista, lead sponsor of the amendment, said the amendment is so narrowly worded that it eliminates the possibility of any for-profit groups taking advantage of the law.
Referred Question 1, popularly known as the Arkansas Higher Education Technology and Facility Improvement Act, proposes to restructure bond debt issued under the Arkansas College Savings Bond Act of 1989 to finance technological and infrastructure improvements for state institutions of higher learning.
According to the University of Arkansas Public Policy Center, though this issue was voted down in December 2005, the state Legislature has acknowledged there is an immediate need for additional funding to improve technology and facilities at state colleges. They have identified the bond issue as the best way to generate the necessary revenue.
Under the proposal, each institution would be required to submit a plan outlining how it will use the funds. The state will set aside $100 million for four-year universities and $50 million will be allocated to two-year colleges. The act will require that a specified portion be spent upgrading technology and connecting schools to the e-corridor Internet network for research.
Further information regarding these or any other ballot issues can be found at www.sos.arkansas.gov.