A group hoping to undermine Arkansas’s optometric scope expansion fell short of its goal last week, ensuring their opposition didn’t make it to a referendum.1 Although the interest group gathered more than 80,000 signatures in an attempt to reign in the boundaries of optometry, the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office rejected many of them—approximately 60,000—due to a filing snafu. The group, Safe Surgery Arkansas, failed to submit sworn statements to the state verifying their paid canvassers were never convicted of a felony or crime involving fraud, forgery, identity theft or other election law violations, according to a letter from the Secretary of State’s office to Safe Surgery Arkansas.
With the challenge no longer under threat of a ballot referendum, “it is our opinion that Act 579 is now law,” explained Vicki Farmer of the Arkansas Optometric Association. Act 579, the scope-expanding bill Safe Surgery Arkansas hoped to overturn, amends optometry to include local injections, incision and curettage of chalazia, removal of superficial periocular skin lesions and some laser procedures (with training and certification). That bill passed the state’s senate back in March.
Associated Press reporting shows Safe Surgery Arkansas spent more than $150,000 on the effort.2
1. Mershon M. Majority of signatures submitted to challenge optometry eye surgery law not being counted. KATV. katv.com/news/local/majority-of-signatures-submitted-to-challenge-optometry-eye-surgery-law-not-being-counted. July 23, 2019. Accessed August 5, 2019.
2. DeMillow A. Referendum effort on Arkansas eye surgery law rejected. StarTribune. www.startribune.com/referendum-effort-on-arkansas-eye-surgery-law-rejected/514499632/. August 2, 2019. Accessed August 5, 2019.