Arkansas lawmakers will have to whittle down as many as 25 proposals for potential voter referral to alter the state’s constitution.
Wednesday (Feb. 9) was the filing deadline for resolutions to be filed for proposed constitutional changes. Lawmakers are allowed to refer up to three measures for voter consideration for the 2012 general election. At the end of the day, House members filed 13 joint resolutions, while Senate members filed 12. Not all of the resolutions are meant to be considered for constitutional referral; they can simply be a statement of record by a member.
Later in the session, the Joint State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee will convene and refer as many as three proposals from the plethora of resolutions filed to date.
The 13 House Joint Resolutions have a wide range of suggested changes. A sampling includes:
- Raising revenues for highway needs
- Stripping the independence of the Highway Commission and Game & Fish Commission
- Repealing annual legislative sessions
- Abolishing the offices of Lt. Governor and Land Commissioner
Others would create special prosecutors, dictate lottery spending and alter property tax collections.
The 12 Senate Joint Resolutions address a variety of different constitutional changes, such as:
- Abolishing the office of constable
- Requiring a 3/4ths vote of the legislature to raise taxes
- Altering term limits for legislators to a total of 14 years, regardless of which chamber they serve in
- Changing election requirements to the Arkansas Court of Appeals
Several of the resolutions are in the form of a "shell bill," which means that they are very incomplete in the details of their intent. Sponsors of the resolutions will be able to amend the measures before committee consideration.