LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has again rejected a proposed state constitutional amendment that would allow four casinos in Arkansas.
Rutledge’s opinion released Monday says the popular name of the proposal is too lengthy and the ballot title is misleading and ambiguous.
This is the second time Rutledge has rejected the proposal, which would allow casinos in Garland, Crittenden, Pope and Jefferson counties. The first rejection came in January, when she cited ambiguities in the proposed constitutional amendment.
It would dedicate 52.5 percent of taxes collected to highway needs. The attorney general must certify the measure’s wording before supporters can begin gathering signatures to try and place it on the November ballot.
Under Arkansas law, the attorney general must certify or reject the popular name and ballot title of a proposed constitutional amendment within 10 business days. Once certified, Driving Arkansas Forward will immediately start collecting signatures to ensure the measure is placed on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Pine Bluff and Jefferson County officials joined members of the business community in late January to announce that Jefferson County is one of the planned sites for a casino resort. During a meeting at the Economic Development Alliance for Jefferson County, John Berrey, the Chief of the Quapaw Indian Tribe, laid out plans for the construction of a resort and casino in the county that would create 1,000 new jobs.
A minimum $100 million will be required to be invested in each casino.
Berrey, whose tribe currently operates a casino in Oklahoma just across the border from Joplin, Missouri, cited the tribe’s history with Pine Bluff and Jefferson County, including the burial site for Chief Saracen, Saracen Lake and Saracen Landing.
“This is a chance to bring Pine Bluff back to its old self,” Berrey said. “It’s a big deal for the citizens of Pine Bluff and Jefferson County.”
Appearing with Berrey were Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington and Jefferson County Judge Henry “Hank” Wilkins IV.
Since she has been in office, Washington has talked about Pine Bluff being a “place of destination with the right partners to help achieve the goal.”
“I believe we can be partners,” she said.