Arkansas Legislation: Timing Requirements for Arkansas Municipal Referendum Petition Circulation

August 09, 2016

Act 1093 of the 90th Arkansas General Assembly set the minimum time allowed for circulation of a municipal referendum petition (other than a municipal referendum petition concerning a municipal bond) at sixty (60) days.  This change is reflected in Ark. Code Ann. § 14-47-124 and Ark. Code Ann. § 14-55-303.  Pursuant to Article 5, § 1 of the Arkansas Constitution, the time period for a municipal referendum petition may be set at not less than thirty (30) days nor more than ninety (90) days after the passage of a municipal ordinance.  Prior to enactment of Act 1093, Arkansas municipalities set the referendum time period by local law, with many setting a time period of the minimum thirty (30) days.  Those time periods will now need to be expanded to a minimum of sixty (60) days.    

The expanded minimum referendum period provided by Act 1093 does not apply to municipal referendum petitions concerning municipal bonds (which are generally subject to a thirty (30) day referendum period).  However, municipal bond transactions that involve more than a single bond ordinance, such as a municipal water and sewer bond issue that includes a water or sewer rate increase, which is typically handled with a separate ordinance, will be impacted, because a rate increase ordinance will require a minimum 60 day referendum, potentially affecting the total amount of time necessary to close a bond transaction.