2014 Arkansas General Election Issue Number 3

Below is an excerpt from the review of Issue Number 3 from the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Research and Extension

What is being proposed?

Issue 3 proposes several changes to the Arkansas Constitution. Briefly summarized, these include:

  • Gifts from Lobbyists: The proposed amendment would prohibit Arkansas constitutional officers, members of the General Assembly and members of the independent citizens commission (established by this proposed amendment) from soliciting or accepting a gift from a lobbyist or person acting on behalf of a lobbyist.
  • Independent Citizens Commission: The proposed amendment would create an independent commission to set salaries of state elected officials and provide recommendations regarding reimbursements and “per diem,” which is an additional payment legislators receive to help pay for meals or lodging when they are performing official duties. Salaries are currently set by the General Assembly within guidelines contained in the Arkansas Constitution.
  • Campaign Contributions: The proposed amendment would establish constitutional law regarding contributions to candidates running for political office. The state’s Constitution does not currently address campaign contributions. Laws concerning campaign contributions currently exist only in Arkansas Code (laws that can be changed by the Arkansas General Assembly).
  • Lobbying by Former Legislators: The proposed amendment would prohibit a former member of the Arkansas General Assembly from registering as a lobbyist until 2 years after his or her elected terms expires. Arkansas Code currently prohibits legislators from serving as lobbyists for at least one year after their term expires.
  • Term Limits: The proposed amendment would allow legislators to serve 16 years total in the House or Senate instead of chamber-specific term limits for the House of Representatives and Senate. Current limits are six years in the House of Representatives and eight years in the Senate.
 More details about each of these proposed changes are provided below. 

Why is this issue on the ballot? 

Issue 3 is a combination of issues that were initially proposed as separate amendments by different legislators. The issues were later combined as a compromise to gain support for putting changes regarding campaign contributions, lobbying and gifts before the voters.  Proposed changes regarding campaign contributions, lobbying by former legislators and gifts from lobbyists mirror proposed changes by Arkansas citizens who tried to put similar requirements on the 2012 ballot but did not collect enough signatures for their petition. The citizen sponsors said the changes were meant to restore voter confidence in state government and decrease the influence of special interest groups.

Legislative sponsors of this proposal decided to include them in this proposed constitutional amendment.  The proposed changes regarding legislative, executive and judicial salaries is an attempt to address low salaries while turning over decision-making power of a controversial process to people who aren’t elected.  The proposed changes to existing term limits removes the separate House and Senate office term limits in favor of a 16-year-term limit which could be served in either chamber or combination.

See the entire review HERE

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