Chris Rizo Apr. 21, 2008, 7:00am
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Legal Newsline)-A group backing a proposal in Arkansas that would require state agencies to verify those seeking government programs are legal U.S. residents filed a revised proposal, after the first one was rejected by Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.
McDaniel, a Democrat, has until April 30 to either certify or reject the revised proposal that is about 200 words shorter than the initiative he rejected this month in part for its length.
Once approved, Secure Arkansas, which is spearheading the initiative, can begin gathering the required 61,974 signatures needed to place the initiative on the November ballot.
The proposal would require residents be at least 13-years-old to sign an affidavit that they live in the United States legally to receive local, state and certain federal public benefits that are administered by state agencies or political subdivisions.
Those found to be lying could face perjury charges, under the proposal.
However, exceptions to the law include emergency medical services, organ transplants, disaster relief, prenatal care and access to crisis counseling and short-term shelters.
McDaniel rejected the original proposal because of ambiguous language. Among other things, McDaniel said the first ballot title, at 923 words, could face legal challenge for being too complex.
"The ballot title you have submitted is unnecessarily lengthy, in that it essentially simply repeats each provision of the proposed act and reflects no apparent effort to identify the most substantive and important provisions," McDaniel wrote.
He said also that the proposed ballot language may be incorrect because "it fails to acknowledge that access to many public benefits by undocumented immigrants is currently restricted by federal law."
From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.