- Associated Press - Friday, August 15, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A group pushing for expanded alcohol sales in Arkansas submitted additional petitions Friday in an effort to put its proposal on the November ballot.

Let Arkansas Decide turned in 41,492 signatures Friday to the secretary of state’s office. The group had been given until Aug. 18 to submit additional petitions after it fell 17,133 signatures from registered voters shy of the 78,133 needed to put the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot.

“I’m 100 percent confident it’s going to be certified,” David Couch, the group’s chairman, told reporters as he submitted the petitions.

The secretary of state’s office will spend the next several days counting and checking the validity of the signatures submitted by the group to determine whether it qualifies. The office has 30 days to review the petitions submitted.

The proposal would legalize alcohol sales in all 75 Arkansas counties. Thirty-seven counties are currently dry.

The group still faces a potential hurdle if it’s cleared for the ballot. A group opposed to the measure, Let Local Communities Decide for Themselves, asked Secretary of State Mark Martin’s office to block the measure from the ballot. The group argued that Martin should have used July 4 as the deadline for submitting petitions, since that would have been four months before the Nov. 4 election.

An attorney for the group last month said it would likely challenge the measure before the Supreme Court if Martin certified it for the ballot. Laura Labay, a spokeswoman for Martin’s office, said the office was proceeding as planned in reviewing the signatures.

The expanded alcohol sales group was one of two given 30 additional days to circulate petitions to qualify for the November ballot. A group proposing to gradually raise Arkansas’ minimum wage from $6.25 an hour to $8.50 an hour by 2017 was expected to submit its additional signatures on Monday. The group had fallen 15,107 signatures shy of the 62,507 needed from registered voters to put its proposed initiated act on the ballot.


Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ademillo

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