Rule Change Could Make it Easier for Counties to Tax Property at Churches

A proposed rule-change at the Arkansas Assessment Coordination Division could make it easier for county assessors to collect taxes on property that churches, charities, and other nonprofits own.

Currently, the Arkansas Constitution makes it clear that churches and charities are tax-exempt, and churches and charities generally don’t pay taxes on property they own unless they make some sort of profit from it.

The proposed rules would require churches and charities to file forms and paperwork with the county assessor that prove their property is exempt from taxation “beyond a reasonable doubt under Arkansas law.”

That’s a very high standard — and it gives county assessors tremendous leeway.

The forms also require churches and charities to give the county information that many people would consider private — like information about their staff’s salaries, bonuses, and other compensation. It isn’t clear why the county would need to know that kind of information.

If a county assessor decided to reject the nonprofit’s application for a tax exemption, the county could force the organization to pay taxes on anything it owns — land, buildings, vehicles, electronic equipment, machinery, and other property — as if it were a business.

The new rule could hurt many different nonprofits in Arkansas, including:

  • Churches
  • Charities like the Salvation Army or Union Rescue Mission
  • Christian summer camps
  • Private schools and private colleges and universities
  • Food ministries
  • Nonprofit hospitals and medical clinics
  • Homeless shelters

Charities and churches contribute millions of dollars to the economy each year by serving their communities. That’s part of the reason the Arkansas Legislature voted to designate religious organizations and charities as essential earlier this year. Making it easier for counties to tax property at churches and charities hurts everybody.

Please contact the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration today, and ask them to opposed Rule 6.01 – 6.04, the Property Tax Exemption rule that affects nonprofits, charities, and churches.

Email your comments against the rules to kayleigh.gilliam@dfa.arkansas.gov. All comments are due by Monday, May 31.

You can read the proposed rules here. You can read some of the paperwork churches and charities would have to file here.

Ask Your Senator to Support Religious Freedom

Ask your state senator to support an effort to add the Religious Freedom Amendment to the Arkansas Constitution.

S.J.R. 14 by Sen. Jason Rapert (R – Conway) and Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R – Paragould) amends the Arkansas Constitution.

It prevents the government from burdening a person’s free exercise of religion.

The measure is similar to Arkansas’ state Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

You can call (501) 682-2902 to leave a message asking your state senator to support S.J.R. 14, the Religious Freedom Amendment.

You can find your senator’s name and email address below. Ask your senator to support S.J.R. 14.

Contact Your Senator

Sen. Bart Hester (Republican – Dist. 1): bart.hester@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Jim Hendren (Independent- Dist. 2): jim.hendren@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Cecile Bledsoe (Republican – Dist. 3): cecile.bledsoe@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Greg Leding (Democrat – Dist. 4): greg.leding@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Bob Ballinger (Republican – Dist. 5): bob.ballinger@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Gary Stubblefield (Republican – Dist. 6): gary.stubblefield@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Lance Eads (Republican – Dist. 7): lance.eads@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Mathew Pitsch (Republican – Dist. 8): mathew.pitsch@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Terry Rice (Republican – Dist. 9): terry.rice@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Larry Teague (Democrat – Dist. 10): larry.teague@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Jimmy Hickey (Republican – Dist. 11): jimmy.hickey@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Charles Beckham (Republican – Dist. 12): charles.beckham@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Alan Clark (Republican – Dist. 13): alan.clark@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Bill Sample (Republican – Dist. 14): bill.sample@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Mark Johnson (Republican – Dist. 15): mark.johnson@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Breanne Davis (Republican – Dist. 16): breanne.davis@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Scott Flippo (Republican – Dist. 17): scott.flippo@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Missy Irvin (Republican – Dist. 18): missy.irvin@senate.ar.gov

Sen. James Sturch (Republican – Dist. 19): james.sturch@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Blake Johnson (Republican – Dist. 20): blake.johnson@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Dan Sullivan (Republican – Dist. 21): dan.sullivan@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Dave Wallace (Republican – Dist. 22): dave.wallace@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Ronald Caldwell (Republican – Dist. 23): ronald.caldwell@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Keith Ingram (Democrat – Dist. 24): keith.ingram@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Stephanie Flowers (Democrat – Dist. 25): stephanie.flowers@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Ben Gilmore (Republican – Dist. 26): ben.gilmore@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Trent Garner (Republican – Dist. 27): trent.garner@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Jonathan Dismang (Republican – Dist. 28): jonathan.dismang@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Ricky Hill (Republican – Dist. 29): Ricky.Hill@Senate.ar.gov

Sen. Linda Chesterfield (Democrat – Dist. 30): linda.chesterfield@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Joyce Elliott (Democrat – Dist. 31): joyce.elliott@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Clarke Tucker (Democrat – Dist. 32): clarke.tucker@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Kim Hammer (Republican – Dist. 33): kim.hammer@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Jane English (Republican – Dist. 34): jane.english@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Jason Rapert (Republican – Dist. 35): jason.rapert@senate.ar.gov

Here are the 43 Constitutional Amendments Proposed in Arkansas

A total of 43 constitutional amendments have been proposed at the Arkansas Legislature this year.

Lawmakers can refer up to three of these constitutional amendments to voters for consideration.

The three amendments selected from these 43 measures would appear on the 2022 General Election ballot.

Our team has reviewed and summarized each of the 43 proposed measures currently in play in Little Rock.

Below is a breakdown of each proposed constitutional amendment. Family Council supports some of these measures; we oppose others; and we have no position on most of them.

As noted below, it is possible Family Council’s position on some measures could change as proposals are amended or new information comes to light.

Proposed Constitutional Amendments Family Council Supports

H.J.R.1006 by Rep. Frances “Fran” Cavenaugh (R-AR-060)

H.J.R. 1006 amends the Arkansas Constitution to permit voters to recall elected officials and judges in Arkansas. Upon initial review, Family Council supports this amendment.

H.J.R.1010 by Rep. Joe Cloud (R-AR-071)

H.J.R. 1010 amends the Arkansas Constitution to remove authorization of a casino in Pope County. This is a good amendment that will help curtail casino gambling in Arkansas. Family Council supports H.J.R. 1010.

H.J.R.1011 by Rep. Joe Cloud (R-AR-071)

H.J.R. 1011 amends the Arkansas Constitution. It changes the casino amendment that authorizes casino gambling in Pope, Jefferson, Garland, and Crittenden counties. Under H.J.R. 1011, the Arkansas Racing Commission would not issue a casino license in Pope County unless the voters of the county approve conducting casino gaming at a local election. Family Council supports H.J.R. 1011.

H.J.R.1018 by Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R-AR-087), Sen. Jane English (R-AR-034)

H.J.R. 1018 amends the Arkansas Constitution. It clarifies that proceeds from the Arkansas Lottery may be used to fund scholarships and grants to students at vocational-technical and technical institutes. Currently, lottery scholarships are only available to students enrolled in public or private two-year and four-year colleges and universities. Family Council supports legislation that ensures lottery-funded scholarships are managed responsibly. We support H.J.R. 1018.

H.J.R.1024 by Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R-AR-057), Sen. Jason Rapert (R-AR-035)

H.J.R. 1024 amends the Arkansas Constitution. It prevents the government from burdening a person’s free exercise of religion. The measure is similar to Arkansas’ state Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Family Council strongly supports this good amendment to the Arkansas Constitution.

H.J.R.1025 by Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R-AR-057)

H.J.R. 1025 amends the Arkansas Constitution. It says that the sanctity of life is paramount to all other rights protected by the constitution. It states that Arkansas citizens, acting as jurors, have the sole authority to determine the amount of compensation or civil penalty imposed because of injuries resulting in death or resulting from acts that create a significant risk to life. H.J.R. 1025 will help prevent the State of Arkansas from placing a price tag on human life. Family Council strongly supports this good amendment.

S.J.R.14 by Sen. Jason Rapert (R-AR-035), Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R-AR-057)

S.J.R. 14 amends the Arkansas Constitution. It prevents the government from burdening a person’s free exercise of religion. The measure is similar to Arkansas’ state Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Family Council strongly supports this good amendment to the Arkansas Constitution.

S.J.R.16 by Sen. Alan Clark (R-AR-013)

S.J.R. 16 would amend the Arkansas Constitution to require public schools to designate their athletic teams as “male” or “female,” and require student athletes to compete according to their biological sex. This would prevent boys who claim to be girls from competing in girls’ sports at school — and vice versa. Family Council supports this measure.

Proposed Constitutional Amendments Family Council Opposes

H.J.R.1008 by Rep. DeAnn Vaught (R-AR-004)

H.J.R. 1008 amends the Arkansas Constitution. It requires initiatives and referenda submitted to voters via petition drives to be approved by at least 60% of the votes cast on the measure in order to pass. However, it would not require constitutional amendments submitted by the General Assembly to be approved by 60% of the vote. Family Council opposes this measure.

H.J.R.1014 by Rep. Lee Johnson (R-AR-075), Sen. Missy Irvin (R-AR-018)

H.J.R. 1014 amends the Arkansas Constitution. It gives the Arkansas Legislature the power to cap non-economic and punitive damages that courts can award when a person is injured or killed through someone else’s negligence. Family Council has never opposed responsible lawsuit reforms. However, H.J.R. 1014 makes it possible for the Arkansas Legislature to put a price tag on human life. Family Council opposes this proposed constitutional amendment.

H.J.R.1015 by Rep. Jim Dotson (R-AR-093), Sen. Bob Ballinger (R-AR-005)

H.J.R. 1015 amends the Arkansas Constitution. It gives the Arkansas Legislature the power to set rules about pleading, practice, procedure, and evidence for all courts in Arkansas. Family Council has never opposed responsible lawsuit reforms. However, giving the Arkansas Legislature the ability to restrict evidence that can or cannot be used in court may make it difficult or impossible for people to obtain justice in court. Family Council opposes this proposed constitutional amendment.

S.J.R.7 by Sen. Bob Ballinger (R-AR-005), Rep. Jim Dotson (R-AR-093)

S.J.R. 7 amends the Arkansas Constitution. It gives the Arkansas Legislature the power to set rules about pleading, practice, procedure, and evidence for all courts in Arkansas. Family Council has never opposed responsible lawsuit reforms. However, giving the Arkansas Legislature the ability to restrict evidence that can or cannot be used in court may make it difficult or impossible for people to obtain justice in court. Family Council opposes this proposed constitutional amendment.

S.J.R.8 by Sen. Missy Irvin (R-AR-018), Rep. Lee Johnson (R-AR-075)

S.J.R. 8 amends the Arkansas Constitution. It gives the Arkansas Legislature the power to cap non-economic and punitive damages courts can award when a person is injured or killed through someone else’s negligence. Family Council has never opposed responsible lawsuit reforms. However, S.J.R. 8 makes it possible for the Arkansas Legislature to put a price tag on human life. Family Council opposes this proposed constitutional amendment.

S.J.R.9 by Sen. Bob Ballinger (R-AR-005), Rep. Jim Dotson (R-AR-093)

S.J.R. 9 amends the Arkansas Constitution. It gives the Arkansas Legislature the power to set rules about pleading, practice, procedure, and evidence for all courts in Arkansas. Family Council has never opposed responsible lawsuit reforms. However, giving the Arkansas Legislature the ability to restrict evidence that can or cannot be used in court may make it difficult or impossible for people to obtain justice in court. Family Council opposes this proposed constitutional amendment.

Proposed Constitutional Amendments On Which Family Council Has No Position

H.J.R.1001 by Rep. Frances “Fran” Cavenaugh (R-AR-060), Sen. Breanne Davis (R-AR-016)

H.J.R. 1001 amends the Arkansas Constitution to let the General Assembly convene itself into session if the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate issue a joint proclamation calling the legislature into assembly. Currently, special sessions of the Arkansas Legislature can only be called by the governor. Family Council is neutral on H.J.R. 1001.

H.J.R.1002 by Rep. David Tollett (R-AR-012)

H.J.R. 1002 amends the Arkansas Constitution concerning ad valorem property tax assessments for the benefit of school districts. Family Council has no position on this measure.

H.J.R.1003 by Rep. Michelle Gray (R-AR-062), Sen. James Sturch (R-AR-019)

H.J.R. 1003 amends the Arkansas Constitution concerning taxes for the construction, operation, and improvement of public libraries. Family Council is neutral on H.J.R. 1003.

H.J.R.1004 by Rep. Stephen Meeks (R-AR-067)

H.J.R. 1004 amends the Arkansas Constitution concerning mill tax on real and personal property. Family Council is neutral on H.J.R. 1004.

H.J.R.1005 by Rep. David Ray (R-AR-040), Sen. Bart Hester (R-AR-001)

H.J.R. 1005 amends the Arkansas Constitution. It requires initiatives, referenda, constitutional amendments, and referred measures submitted to voters to be approved by at least 60% of the votes cast on the measure in order to pass. Family Council is currently neutral on this measure, pending amendments that may be made to it.

H.J.R.1007 by Rep. Fredrick “Fred” Love (D-AR-029)

H.J.R. 1007 amends the Arkansas Constitution to create the Citizens Commission on the Minimum Wage. The commission would have the sole authority to increase the minimum wage in Arkansas. Family Council has no position on this measure.

H.J.R.1009 by Rep. Jim Dotson (R-AR-093)

H.J.R. 1009 amends the Arkansas Constitution. It amends the name, membership, powers, and duties of the State Highway Commission. Family Council has no position on this measure.

H.J.R.1012 by Rep. John Payton (R-AR-064)

H.J.R. 1012 amends the Arkansas constitution to revise the duties of certain constitutional officers. Family Council has no position on this measure.

H.J.R.1013 by Rep. John Payton (R-AR-064)

H.J.R. 1013 amends the Arkansas constitution to revise the duties of certain constitutional officers. Family Council has no position on this measure.

H.J.R.1016 by Rep. Jim Dotson (R-AR-093)

H.J.R. 1016 amends the Arkansas Constitution. It is a “shell” amendment at this time, and it does not contain any actual provisions. Family Council will take a position on this measure if and when provisions are added to it.

H.J.R.1017 by Rep. Jim Dotson (R-AR-093)

H.J.R. 1017 amends the Arkansas Constitution. It is a “shell” amendment at this time, and it does not contain any actual provisions. Family Council may take a position on this measure if and when provisions are added to it.

H.J.R.1019 by Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R-AR-087), Sen. Gary Stubblefield (R-AR-006)

H.J.R. 1019 amends the Arkansas Constitution. It clarifies that candidates for the Arkansas Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Circuit Court, and District Court shall be elected on a partisan basis rather than on a non-partisan basis. Family Council has no position on this measure.

H.J.R.1020 by Rep. Josh Miller (R-AR-066)

H.J.R. 1020 amends the Arkansas Constitution. It is a “shell” amendment at this time, and it does not contain any actual provisions. Family Council may take a position on this measure if and when provisions are added to it.

H.J.R.1021 by Rep. Vivian Flowers (D-AR-017)

H.J.R. 1021 amends the Arkansas Constitution. It repeals language in the state constitution permitting slavery or involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime. Family Council is neutral on this measure.

H.J.R.1022 by Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R-AR-057)

H.J.R. 1022 amends the Arkansas Constitution. It is a “shell” amendment at this time, and it does not contain any actual provisions. Family Council may take a position on this measure if and when provisions are added to it.

H.J.R.1023 by Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R-AR-057), Sen. Jason Rapert (R-AR-035)

H.J.R. 1023 amends the Arkansas Constitution to say that Arkansans have a fundamental right to keep and bear arms. Family Council supports the Second Amendment, but we currently have no position on this measure.

S.J.R.1 by Sen. Alan Clark (R-AR-013)

S.J.R. 1 amends the Arkansas Constitution. It lets municipalities use short-term financing options to acquire fire trucks. Family Council is neutral on this measure.

S.J.R.10 by Rep. Frances “Fran” Cavenaugh (R-AR-060), Sen. Breanne Davis (R-AR-016)

S.J.R. 10 amends the Arkansas Constitution to let the General Assembly convene itself into session if the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate issue a joint proclamation calling the legislature into assembly. Currently, special sessions of the Arkansas Legislature can only be called by the governor. Family Council is neutral on S.J.R. 10.

S.J.R.11 by Sen. Greg Leding (D-AR-004), Rep. Jay Richardson (D-AR-078)

S.J.R. 11 is a proposed constitutional amendment. It would change Arkansas’ laws governing rental agreements, landlords, and tenants. Family Council is neutral on this constitutional amendment.

S.J.R.12 by Sen. Greg Leding (D-AR-004)

S.J.R. 12 would amend the Arkansas Constitution concerning the qualifications to vote in an election. The measure is a “shell” bill, and it currently does not contain any provisions. Family Council is neutral on this measure at this time.

S.J.R.13 by Sen. Jason Rapert (R-AR-035), Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R-AR-057)

S.J.R. 13 amends the Arkansas Constitution to say that Arkansans have a fundamental right to keep and bear arms. Family Council supports the Second Amendment, but we currently have no position on this measure.

S.J.R.15 by Sen. Alan Clark (R-AR-013)

S.J.R. 15 amends the Arkansas Constitution to require the governor to call a special session of the Arkansas Legislature when issuing an executive order or proclamation declaring an emergency. The special session would give the Arkansas Legislature an opportunity to consider legislation related to the emergency. Family Council is neutral on this measure.

S.J.R.17 by Sen. Bob Ballinger (R-AR-005), Rep. Justin Gonzales (R-AR-019)

S.J.R. 17 would amend the Arkansas Constitution concerning the review of the constitutionality of certain federal actions before the federal actions are implemented in Arkansas. The measure is a “shell” bill, and it currently does not contain any provisions. Family Council is neutral on this measure at this time.

S.J.R.18 by Sen. Alan Clark (R-AR-013)

S.J.R. 18 would propose an amendment to the United States Constitution limiting the U.S. Supreme Court to nine justices. Family Council is neutral on this measure at this time.

S.J.R.2 by Sen. Alan Clark (R-AR-013)

S.J.R. 2 amends the Arkansas Constitution to make it possible for the Arkansas Legislature to convene itself into special session if a majority of the legislators sign a petition submitted to the governor calling for a special session. Currently, special sessions of the Arkansas Legislature can only be called by the governor. Family Council is neutral on this measure.

S.J.R.3 by Sen. Alan Clark (R-AR-013)

S.J.R. 3 amends the Arkansas Constitution to permit the State of Arkansas to be sued just like any other entity and taken to court. Family Council is currently neutral on S.J.R. 3.

S.J.R.4 by Sen. Mark Johnson (R-AR-015)

S.J.R. 4 amends the Arkansas Constitution to require the General Assembly to provide laws establishing, maintaining, and supporting free public schools. Family Council is neutral on S.J.R. 4.

S.J.R.5 by Sen. Jason Rapert (R-AR-035)

S.J.R. 5 amends the Arkansas Constitution concerning the manner in which primary elections are conducted. The measure is a “shell” bill, and it currently does not contain any provisions. Family Council is neutral on this measure at this time.

S.J.R.6 by Sen. Clarke Tucker (D-AR-032), Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R-AR-057)

S.J.R. 6 would amend the Arkansas Constitution. It requires the Arkansas Legislature to enact laws revising the election process for primary elections, special primary elections, and general elections. It also requires the legislature to enact laws establishing the process for choosing delegates that will nominate presidential candidates and electors for the President and Vice President of the United States. Family Council currently has no position on this proposed constitutional amendment.