Arkansas Legislative Approval of State Agency Rules Amendment, Issue 1 (2014)

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Issue 1
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Type:Legislatively-referred constitutional amendment
Constitution:Arkansas Constitution
Referred by:Arkansas State Legislature
Topic:Admin. of Gov't.
Status:On the ballot
2014 measures
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November 4
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The Arkansas Legislative Approval of State Agency Rules Amendment, Issue 1 is on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Arkansas as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. If it is approved by voters, the measure would require legislative review and approval of all changes to state agencies' administrative rules.[1][2] The amendment was sponsored by Sen. Jonathan Dismang (R-28) in the Arkansas State Legislature, where it was known as Senate Joint Resolution 7.[3]


Current Arkansas law requires state agencies to submit changes to their administrative rules to the legislature, but it does not grant the legislature the power to approve or disapprove those changes.[4] The ballot language for all three legislatively-referred constitutional amendments on the 2014 ballot have faced legal issues due to a 2013 act removing the attorney general's authority to write popular names for the measures. For more information on this complication and the possible lawsuits it may incur, see the path to the ballot section.

Text of measure

Constitutional changes

If approved, Issue 1 will amend Article 5 of the Arkansas Constitution by adding a new section to read as follows:[1]

§ 42. Review and approval of administrative rules.

(a) The General Assembly may provide by law:

(1) For the review by a legislative committee of administrative rules promulgated by a state agency before the administrative rules become effective; and
(2) That administrative rules promulgated by a state agency shall not become effective until reviewed and approved by the legislative committee charged by law with the review of administrative rules under subdivision (a)(1) of this section.

(b) The review and approval by a legislative committee under subsection (a) of this section may occur during the interim or during a regular, special, or fiscal session of the General Assembly.[5]


Sen. Dismang, sponsor of SJR 7




  • Rep. Deffenbaugh supported SJR 7, saying,

SJR 7 is a good bill because it keeps agencies from making their own rules. It will give more Legislatives [sic] oversight.[5]

Rep. Gary Deffenbaugh, [4]

  • Rep. Hobbs said in favor of the amendment,
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.[5]

Rep. Debra Hobbs, [4]

  • Sen. Lindsey said of the issue,
Over a number of years, the Legislature has chaffed at it's [sic] 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.[5]

Sen. Uvalde Lindsey, [4]


Sen. Stephanie Flowers (D-25) voted against SJR 7 in the Senate.[3]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing ballot measures in Arkansas & Amending the Arkansas Constitution

A majority vote is required in both chambers of the Arkansas State Legislature to refer a measure to the ballot, per Section 22 of Article 19 of the Arkansas Constitution.

The Arkansas State Senate voted 32 to 1 in approval of the measure on April 12, 2013. The amendment was then transmitted to the House of Representatives. The House voted unanimously to approve the bill on April 16, 2013, thereby referring the measure to voters. This made SJR 7 the first of a three total referrals that voters will see from the legislature in 2014.[3]

Senate vote

April 12, 2013 Senate vote

Arkansas SJR 7 Senate Vote
Approveda Yes 32 96.97%

House vote

April 16, 2013 House vote

Arkansas SJR 7 House Vote
Approveda Yes 88 100%

Ballot language legal challenges

All three of the legislatively-referred constitutional amendments for the 2014 ballot faced difficulties due to an apparent mistake made by Senate Bill 821 in the 2013 regular session. The bill, which became Act 1413, was controversial on its own grounds, but directly impacted these measures by removing the requirement that the attorney general write popular names for the amendments put forward by the legislature.[7] While initially appearing to be a minor procedural issue, Arkansas law requires ballot measures to have popular titles to appear on the ballot. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (D) had endorsed Act 1413 in 2013 without realizing this complication. The matter was brought to attention by the secretary of state's request of opinions on the matter.[8]

On January 23, 2014, the secretary of state's office announced that they would use language provided by the attorney general's office and from the measures themselves to prepare the ballot language. The attorney general had claimed that the secretary of state had the authority to do so, but Martha Adcock, general counsel for the secretary of state's office, has expressed some doubt over the process. She said,

Anybody can sue. This is no guarantee by us saying we're going to provide and use the attorney generals' popular name that somebody won't sue and say there's no authority for doing so.[5]

—Martha Adcock, general council to Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin, [9]

It appears that some groups may try to use this legal gray area to challenge the legislatively-referred constitutional amendments. A group opposed to the term limits amendment and another that had dropped its initiated ballot measure for ethics reforms due to the legislatively-referred constitutional amendment on the same issue have both expressed the possibility of using a lawsuit to challenge the legality of the measures due to the confusion caused by Act 1413.[9]

See also

External links

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