Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands

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Arkansas Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands
General information
Office Type:  Partisan
Office website:  Official Link
2014 FY FY Budget:  $32,307,367
Term limits:  2
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:  Arkansas Constitution, Article 6, Section 1
Selection Method:  Elected
Current Officeholder

John Thurston.jpg
Name:  John Thurston
Officeholder Party:  Republican
Assumed office:  January 11, 2011
Compensation:  $54,848
Next election:  November 6, 2018
Last election:  November 4, 2014
Other Arkansas Executive Offices
GovernorLieutenant GovernorSecretary of StateAttorney GeneralTreasurerAuditorCommissioner of EducationAgriculture SecretaryInsurance CommissionerCommissioner of State LandsNatural Resources Exec. DirectorLabor DirectorPublic Service Commission
The Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands is one of seven elected constitutional officers in Arkansas's executive branch. The Commissioner of State Lands is popularly elected every four years by a plurality and is limited to two terms.[1]

Current officeholder

The current Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands is John Thurston. He was elected in 2010, and is the first Republican to hold the position since 1847 when it became an elected office.[2] Thurston won re-election to a second term in 2014.


The Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands's powers, term of office, etc. are derived from Article 6, Section 1 of the Arkansas Constitution.

Article 6, Section 1:

The executive department of this State shall consist of a Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer of State, Auditor of State and Attorney General, all of whom shall keep their offices in person at the seat of government and hold their offices for the term of two years and until their successors are elected and qualified, and the General Assembly may provide by law for the establishment of the office of Commissioner of State Lands.


There are no specific qualifications for the office of Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands.


Arkansas elects the Commissioner of State Lands every four years in midterm elections, not during presidential election years. For the state of Arkansas, Commissioner of State Lands election years included: 2010, 2014, 2018, etc.


See also: Arkansas down ballot state executive elections, 2014
Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngJohn Thurston Incumbent 57.2% 471,848
     Democratic Mark Robertson 36.6% 302,048
     Libertarian Elvis D. Presley 6.2% 51,518
Total Votes 825,414
Election Results via Arkansas Secretary of State.

Term limits

According to Amendment 73 of the Arkansas Constitution, Arkansas Commissioners of Lands are elected to four-year terms and are life-time limited to two terms. Prior to the passage of the amendment in 1992, there were no term limits.[3]


According to Article 6, Section 23 of the Arkansas Constitution, a vacancy in the office of Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands can be filled by gubernatorial appointment. The appointment lasts until the next general election.


See Energy policy in Arkansas for information on the state's energy portfolio and goals.

Real Estate

The Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands controls all landed interests of the state of Arkansas.[4] This includes all lands forfeited to the state for payment of taxes.[5] These lands can be sold, or they may be donated to state agencies, state colleges and universities and local governments for public use.[6] If the state claims land and there is dispute about the accuracy of the claim location, the Commissioner of State Lands is in charge of surveying those lands to make an accurate claim for the state.[7]

Natural Resources

The Commissioner's office also is in charge of mineral leasing for most state owned lands and waterways. The Commissioner serves as the chairperson for the Natural Resources Commission. The Commission seeks to benefit the state through land leases while also protecting the environment.[6]


Additionally, the commissioner has duties pertaining to historical preservation. This includes being in charge of materials (including books, maps, plats, etc.) pertaining to "all internal improvement, seminary, saline, and swamp and overflowed lands." The commissioner also has the responsibility to produce township maps for any township including the previously mentioned land types. These maps can be used by anyone "interested in state lands or desiring to purchase any state lands."[8]


  • Real Estate
  • Mineral Leasing/Natural Resources
  • History and Archives

State budget

The budget for the Office of the Commissioner of State Lands was $32,307,367 for the 2014 fiscal year.[9]


The compensation of all state constitutional officers is set by Amendment 70 to the Arkansas Constitution. Salaries can be adjusted each year by the Arkansas State Legislature, though salary increases cannot exceed the rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index.[10]


In 2014, the Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands received a salary of $54,847.92.[11]


The Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands was paid $54,304.80 for the 2013 fiscal year.[12]

Historical officeholders

There have been 26 Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands since 1868. Of the 26 officeholders, 21 were Democratic, one was Republican and two were appointed. The remaining two had no political affiliation because the office was not an elected position at the time.[13]

Recent news

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Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands News Feed

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Contact information

John Thurston
Commissioner of State Lands
109 State Capitol Bldg Little Rock, Arkansas 72201
Phone: 501-324-9422
Fax: 501-682-1996

See also

External links

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