Area legislators comment on amendment ideas

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 75 views 

Representatives and Senators from the Northwest Arkansas and Fort Smith regions were recently asked by The City Wire to weigh in on the following three proposed constitutional amendments:

Senate Joint Resolution 7: This proposed amendment would limit rules "promulgated by a state agency" until said rules could be reviewed and approved by the legislative committee "chraged by law with the review of administrative rules."

Senate Joint Resolution 16: "A state-wide petition, correction or amendment of an insufficient petition shall be permitted only if the petition contains valid signatures of legal voters equal to: (A) At least ninety percent (90%) of the number of state-wide signatures of legal voters required; and (B) At least ninety percent (90%) of the required number of signatures of legal voters from each of at least fifteen counties of the state."

House Joint Resolution 1009: Arkansas' long-standing prohibition of atheists holding public office would be repealed by this constitutional amendment.

Responses have been included below as representatives and senators have responded to The City Wire e-mail request.

• Rep. Gary Deffenbaugh, R-Van Buren
"SJR 7 is a good bill because it keeps agencies from making their own rules. It will give more Legislatives oversight. The other two bills haven’t made it out of committee."

• Rep. Debbie Hobbs, R-Rogers
"I was somewhat surprised when I first served on ALC and learned that legislators reviewed rule changes, but did not have the authority to approve or disapprove them. I believe the approval of SJR 7 will be in the best interests of Arkansans, but an explanation will need to be given for voters to understand the importance of it.

"SJR 16 will discourage fraudulent signatures on petitions. The amended 75% requirement as compared to the initial 90% makes it a better bill. The proposed amendment has pros and cons.

"While HJR 1009 offers some positive changes, addressing three issues in one proposal may be a little much."

• Sen. Uvalde Lindsey, D-Fayetteville
"SJR-7 – Over a number of years, the Legislature has chaffed at it's inability to keep contracts, rule and regulations developed by state agencies from going into effect after a simple and almost perfunctory legislative review.  SJR-7 would change that to provide legislative approval authority over such issues.

"I think that is a good thing, for it provides a check and balance between the executive and legislative branches of government.

"Since the other amendments did not survive the committee test, I have not taken a position on the merits of each amendment."