National Term Limits Group Calling For Arkansas Legislature To Pull Measure

by Talk Business & Politics staff ( 5 views 

A national term limits organization wants Arkansas legislators to remove a measure to extend legislative terms in the state from the 2014 general election ballot, according to this report from our content partner, the Arkansas News Bureau.

Arkansas lawmakers referred an ethics-term limits amendment to voters in the most recent regular legislative session. The measure would alter the state’s ethics and campaign finance laws to restrict certain gifts to lawmakers and stop corporate contributions to state and local political campaigns.

The measure would also create a commission to evaluate the salaries of government officials and it would extend term limits for legislators to a total of 16 years in either chamber. Currently, Arkansas House members can serve three two-year terms (6 years) and Senators can serve two four-year terms (8 years) in total.

The proposal builds on a once-popular measure pushed by the Regnat Populus group that fell short of the necessary signatures in 2012 to reform state ethics laws. That measure would have disallowed direct corporate and union contributions to state political campaigns and lengthen the “cooling-off” period that legislators must wait after leaving office before they return as lobbyists from 1 year to 2 years. It would also ban any gifts by lobbyists to legislators, sometimes called “the Walmart rule” referring to the company’s strict policy of banning as much as a cup of coffee to be bought for an elected official.

But recent polling shows with the term limits extension tied to the ethics reforms, voters have soured on the proposal.

When polled in March 2012, 69% of Arkansans supported a clean ethics proposal, while only 18% opposed it.

In mid-October 2013, it was only supported by 32% of voters, while 50% were opposed.

From our content partner, the Arkansas News Bureau:

U.S. Term Limits said Tuesday it had sent letters to all members of the state Legislature asking them to undo the decision to send House Joint Resolution 1009 to voters in next year’s election.

Voters in 1992 approved Amendment 73, which U.S. Term Limits supported, limiting legislators to three two-year terms in the House and two four-year terms in the Senate — for a maximum total of 14 years. Among other things, HJR 1009 would modify term limits to allow lawmakers to spend up to 16 years in the Legislature, with no limits on how their years of service are divided between chambers.

“I can’t find any polls suggesting that the people of Arkansas want legislators upping their own term limits from six to 16 years in one seat,” USTL President Philip Blumel said in a release. “This is really just something the politicians have cooked up for themselves.”

The precedent for “un-referring” a legislative-referred measure is unclear. Read more at this link.