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Voter ID, casinos, wage hike measures on Arkansas' ballot

LITTLE ROCK -- Arkansas' voters will decide Tuesday whether to raise the state's minimum wage, legalize casinos in four counties and enshrine a voter ID requirement in the state's constitution.

Although questions will appear on the ballot that would cap the damages that could be awarded in lawsuits and impose strict term limits on legislators, the state Supreme Court disqualified those measures and votes cast for or against them won't be counted.

Here's a look at the valid proposals that will decided:

CASINOS

The most expensive campaign among the ballot measures has been for a proposal to legalize casinos in four Arkansas counties, including at a horse track and dog track that already offer video poker and other electronic gambling.

The Cherokee and Quapaw tribes have spent more than $5.8 million combined on the campaign for the measure, which would allow casinos at the Oaklawn horse track in Hot Springs and the Southland dog track in West Memphis. The proposal would allow one casino in Pope County and another in Jefferson County. Southland's parent company, Delaware North, also donated $1.1 million to the campaign.

If voters approve the measure, the state Racing Commission would be required to accept applications for the Pope and Jefferson County casinos by June 1, 2019. The casinos in those counties must have the support of the county judge or quorum court, as well as the mayor if it's located in the city.

The state Supreme Court rejected two lawsuits by opponents that sought to disqualify the measure.

MINIMUM WAGE

Voters will decide whether to raise Arkansas' minimum wage for the second time in four years.

If approved, the ballot proposal would gradually raise the state's minimum wage from $8.50 an hour to $11. It would raise the wage to $9.25 an hour on Jan. 1, 2019, then to $10 an hour the following year and $11 an hour the year after that.

The state Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit by business groups that opposed the measure and that claimed some of the petition signatures submitted to get the measure on the ballot were invalid.

VOTER ID

Arkansas already has a voter ID law, but the ballot proposal would enshrine the requirement in the state's constitution.

The proposed constitutional amendment will add showing a photo identification to the list of qualifications to vote. The state Supreme Court recently upheld the current voter ID law, which the Republican-controlled Legislature and governor enacted last year. That law will remain on the books regardless of whether the ballot measure is approved.

State Desk on 11/04/2018

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