Ophthalmologist group challenges Arkansas law expanding optometrist scope of practice — 5 insights

Arkansas ophthalmologist group, Safe Surgery Arkansas, is challenging a state law called Act 579 that expanded optometrists' scope of practice, ABC 7 reports.

What you should know:

1. Safe Surgery Arkansas submitted a petition referendum with more than 80,000 signatures to the Secretary of State office on July 23 to stop the implementation of Act 579. However, Secretary of State John Thurston said a majority of the signatures were invalid.

2. Arkansas recently implemented Act 376, a law requiring paid canvassers to submit a sworn affidavit that they've never been convicted of a felony or a crime involving fraud, forgery, identity theft or other election-law violations.

3. Safe Surgery Arkansas canvassers did not submit such an affidavit until July 10. The group had already spent $150,000 for signature collection by June 17.

"The plain language of the constitution requires the secretary to count the signatures of registered voters on this petition," said Safe Surgery Arkansas' attorney, Alex Gray. "Failing to do so would not only disenfranchise over 80,000 voters, but would also be directly in contravention to Arkansas law."

4. Arkansans for Healthy Eyes representatives expected and welcomed the Secretary of State's decision. The group championed Act 579.

5. Act 579 was expected to go into effect July 24. Implementation may have been put on hold.

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