Dr. Jay Barth, the Hendrix College professor who partners with Talk Business on our polling endeavors, also writes for the Arkansas Times on a bi-monthly basis.
In his latest column, he lays out arguments — and some expressed reservations — for the passage of a potential November ballot measure that would change the state’s campaign and ethics laws. The group advocating for the measure is a grassroots organization called Regnat Populus.
In short, the proposal would disallow direct corporate and union contributions to state political campaigns, ban any gifts by lobbyists to legislators, and lengthen the ‘cooling-off’ period that legislators must wait after leaving office before they return as lobbyists from 1 year to 2 years.
Our recent Talk Business-Hendrix College Poll shows widespread support for the ethics measure, 69-18%.
In addition to reducing the role of the lobbyists who rely on gifts to sway votes, the measure would — over time — create change in the types of individuals who run for the legislature. Those who are drawn to the perks of office or to the promise of a lobbying job immediately after leaving office would no longer have an interest in the post. That would be a considerable step forward for the state and for the people’s interests.
We need to use technology to enhance disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures. We need to expand the Bureau of Legislative Research to provide legislators research without reliance on out-of-state trips. We need to raise legislative pay (removing per diems) to make it viable for rank and file citizens to do the job. We need to admit that the most severe term limits in the country are doing harm to our state. First, however, we need to take the step forward that Regnat Populus offers us.
You can read his full column at this link.