LITTLE ROCK — Between now and early July, autograph seekers will be out in force — not looking for popular politicians, sports stars or the rich and famous, but for everyday Arkansans who are registered to vote.

LITTLE ROCK — Between now and early July, autograph seekers will be out in force — not looking for popular politicians, sports stars or the rich and famous, but for everyday Arkansans who are registered to vote.

For backers of ballot proposals certified by the Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, the focus now is not so much on the November general election as it is the July 6 deadline to gather enough signatures to qualify for the general election ballot.

McDaniel has certified the names and ballot titles of two proposed constitutional amendments and one proposed initiated act so far. Supporters of those measures, or any others that get the go-ahead from the attorney general, have until July 6 to gather tens of thousands of valid signatures of registered voters on petitions.

The two proposed amendments require 78,133 signatures to qualify for the ballot.

One measure would allow casinos in seven Arkansas counties — Boone, Crittenden, Garland, Jefferson, Miller, Pulaski and Sebastian counties.

The other proposal would reduce the state conservation tax and remove the state Game and Fish Commission from the list of agencies that receive revenue from the tax.

Neither of those measures has organized opposition to speak of but likely could expect opposition if they qualify for the ballot.

A proposed initiated act to raise the state severance tax on natural gas from 5 percent to 7 percent needs 62,507 signatures.

The measure pits former gas company executive and failed gubernatorial candidate Sheffield Nelson against an array of major business forces marshaled by the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce-Associated Industries of Arkansas.

“Anytime something comes along that you are concerned about, you are best to start your defensive efforts during the signature-gathering process and try to stop the signatures from ever being gathered,” said Kenny Hall, executive vice president of the State Chamber.

Nelson said his campaign is utilizing volunteer canvassers who he says have already collected “thousands on thousands” of signatures at locations across the state.

The Arkansas Municipal League has endorsed the measure, and Nelson said he has tapped the organization’s statewide contacts to circulate petitions and gather signatures. Opponents of Nelson’s proposal argue that raising the severance tax would undermine the competitiveness of an industry that has infused nearly $2 billion in tax revenue and thousands of jobs to the Arkansas economy in recent years.

Arkansans for Jobs and Affordable Energy, a legislative question committee formed by the chamber, has raised more than $603,000 in its campaign against severance tax initiative — the bulk of it from natural gas producers Southwestern Energy and Stephens Production Co.

Nelson counters that gas exploration companies that have invested billions of dollars to drill in Arkansas are not likely to walk away from the state, and that the $250 million annually he estimates his proposal would generate would help state and local governments address road damage and other effects of natural gas exploration. His campaign, the Committee for a Fair Severance Tax, had raised about $55,000 through January.

North Little Rock businessman Frank Fletcher has donated about $50,000, and Nelson has said he planned to solicit donations from selected individuals to finance the drive.

The casino proposal is spearheaded by Texas businessman Michael Wasserman, who had a similar proposal certified by the attorney general in 2010 but failed to get enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Wasserman said he is paying hired canvassers 75 cents per signature to gather signatures and will pay another 25 cents for each name verified by the Secretary of State’s Office. More than 9,000 people have signed petitions so far, most from friends and acquaintances of the canvassers, he said.

“They’re all over the state, some are in eastern Arkansas, we’ve got some folks up in the north-central and of course in Little Rock and the whole central region,” Wasserman said. “We’ve got one lady who owns a hair salon and everybody that walks in, says ‘Oh, let me sign, let me sign.’”

Under the proposal, Wasserman’s Arkansas Hotels and Entertainment Inc. would operate casinos in Boone, Crittenden, Garland, Jefferson, Miller, Pulaski and Sebastian counties.

The proposal would declare all constitutional provisions and laws that conflict with the casino amendment inapplicable, but would not supersede amendments authorizing charitable bingo and the state lottery.

The political arm of the Family Council has said it would mobilize its Christian conservative base in a campaign against the gambling initiative if it makes the ballot.

The group Sportsmen 2010 has raised about $1,000 and has not yet begun circulating petitions for its proposal to lower the conservation tax and exclude Game and Fish from the proceeds. McDaniel approved the measure for signature-gathering just last week.

“We’re kicking around that we will start circulating petitions about the middle of April,” said group chairman Jimmy White of Manila, adding that the group has about 140 members and is recruiting organizers in all 75 counties.

The proposal would reduce the 1/8-cent conservation tax to 1/14-cent and remove Game and Fish from the list of agencies receiving revenues from the levy.

The 1/8-cent conservation tax, approved as Amendment 75 by voters in 1996, generates about $61 million, according to the state Department of Finance and Administration.

The Game and Fish Commission receives 45 percent of the revenue, as does the Arkansas state parks. The Arkansas Heritage Commission receives 9 percent and 1 percent goes to the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission.

Reducing the 1/8-cent tax to 1/14-cent would reduce collections to about $35 million annually, according to DF&A.

Under White’s proposed constitutional amendment, Arkansas state parks would receive about 82 percent of the tax revenue, Arkansas Heritage Commission 16 percent and Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission 2 percent.

Ginny Porter, communications director for Game and Fish, said the agency would lose about $25 million annually under the measure.

“As far as any kind of campaign, that is not up to us,” Porter said, adding that she did not know if a private group had already been created to oppose the proposal.