Article 5, Arkansas Constitution

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Arkansas Constitution
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Article 5 of the Arkansas Constitution is entitled Legislative Departments and has 41 sections.

Section 1

Text of Section 1:

Initiative and Referendum.

The legislative power of the people of this State shall be vested in a General Assembly, which shall consist of the Senate and House of Representatives, but the people reserve to themselves the power to propose legislative measures, laws and amendments to the Constitution, and to enact or reject the same at the polls independent of the General Assembly; and also reserve the power, at their own option to approve or reject at the polls any entire act or any item of an appropriation bill.

Initiative. The first power reserved by the people is the initiative. Eight per cent of the legal voters may propose any law and ten per cent may propose a constitutional amendment by initiative petition and every such petition shall include the full text of the measure so proposed. Initiative petitions for state-wide measures shall be filed with the Secretary of State not less than four months before the election at which they are to be voted upon; provided, that at least thirty days before the aforementioned filing, the proposed measure shall have been published once, at the expense of the petitioners, in some paper of general circulation.

Referendum. The second power reserved by the people is the referendum, and any number not less than six per cent of the legal voters may, by petition, order the referendum against any general Act, or any item of an appropriation bill, or measure passed by the General Assembly, but the filing of a referendum petition against one or more items, sections or parts of any such act or measure shall not delay the remainder from becoming operative. Such petition shall be filed with the Secretary of State not later than ninety days after the final adjournment of the session at which such Act was passed, except when a recess or adjournment shall be taken temporarily for a longer period than ninety days, in which case such petition shall be filed not later than ninety days after such recess or temporary adjournment. Any measure referred to the people by referendum petition shall remain in abeyance until such vote is taken. The total number of votes cast for the office of Governor in the last preceding general election shall be the basis upon which the number of signatures of legal voters upon state-wide initiative and referendum petitions shall be computed.

Upon all initiative or referendum petitions provided for in any of the sections of this article, it shall be necessary to file from at least fifteen of the counties of the State, petitions bearing the signature of not less than one-half of the designated percentage of the electors of such county.

Emergency. If it shall be necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety that a measure shall become effective without delay, such necessity shall be stated in one section, and if upon a yea and nay vote two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, or two-thirds of all the members elected to city or town councils, shall vote upon separate roll call in favor of the measure going into immediate operation, such emergency measure shall become effective without delay. It shall be necessary, however, to state the fact which constitutes such emergency. Provided, however, that an emergency shall not be declared on any franchise or special privilege or act creating any vested right or interest or alienating any property of the State. If a referendum is filed against any emergency measure such measure shall be a law until it is voted upon by the people, and if it is then rejected by a majority of the electors voting thereon, it shall be thereby repealed. The provision of this sub-section shall apply to city or town councils.

Local for Municipalities and Counties. The initiative and referendum powers of the people are hereby further reserved to the legal voters of each municipality and county as to all local, special and municipal legislation of every character in and for their respective municipalities and counties, but no local legislation shall be enacted contrary to the Constitution or any general law of the State, and any general law shall have the effect of repealing any local legislation which is in conflict therewith.

Municipalities may provide for the exercise of the initiative and referendum as to their local legislation. General laws shall be enacted providing for the exercise of the initiative and referendum as to counties. Fifteen per cent of the legal voters of any municipality or county may order the referendum, or invoke the initiative upon any local measure. In municipalities the number of signatures required upon any petition shall be computed upon the total vote cast for the office of mayor at the last preceding general election; in counties upon the office of circuit clerk. In municipalities and counties the time for filing an initiative petition shall not be fixed at less than sixty days nor more than ninety days before the election at which it is to be voted upon; for a referendum petition at not less than thirty days nor more than ninety days after the passage of such measure by a municipal council; nor less than ninety days when filed against a local or special measure passed by the General Assembly.

Every extension, enlargement, grant, or conveyance of a franchise or any rights, property, easement, lease, or occupation of or in any road, street, alley or any part thereof in real property or interest in real property owned by municipalities, exceeding in value three hundred dollars, whether the same be by statute, ordinance, resolution, or otherwise, shall be subject to referendum and shall not be subject to emergency legislation.

General Provisions

Definition. The word "measure" as used herein includes any bill, law, resolution, ordinance, charter, constitutional amendment or legislative proposal or enactment of any character.

No Veto. The veto power of the Governor or mayor shall not extend to measures initiated by or referred to the people.

Amendment and Repeal. No measure approved by a vote of the people shall be amended or repealed by the General Assembly or by any city council, except upon a yea and nay vote on roll call of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house of the General Assembly, or of the city council, as the case may be.

Election. All measures initiated by the people whether for the State, county, city or town, shall be submitted only at the regular elections, either State, congressional or municipal, but referendum petitions may be referred to the people at special elections to be called by the proper official, and such special elections shall be called when fifteen per cent of the legal voters shall petition for such special election, and if the referendum is invoked as to any measure passed by a city or town council, such city or town council may order a special election.

Majority. Any measure submitted to the people as herein provided shall take effect and become a law when approved by a majority of the votes cast upon such measure, and not otherwise, and shall not be required to receive a majority of the electors voting at such election. Such measures shall be operative on and after the thirtieth day after the election at which it is approved, unless otherwise specified in the Act.

This section shall not be construed to deprive any member of the General Assembly of the right to introduce any measure, but no measure shall be submitted to the people by the General Assembly, except a proposed constitutional amendment or amendments as provided for in this Constitution.

Canvass and Declaration of Results. The result of the vote upon any State measure shall be canvassed and declared by the State Board of Election Commissioners (or legal substitute therefore); upon a municipal or county measure, by the county election commissioners (or legal substitute therefore).

Conflicting Measures. If conflicting measures initiated or referred to the people shall be approved by a majority of the votes severally cast for and against the same at the same election, the one receiving the highest number of affirmative votes shall become law.

The Petition

Title. At the time of filing petitions the exact title to be used on the ballot shall by the petitioners be submitted with the petition, and on state-wide measures, shall be submitted to the State Board of Election Commissioners, who shall certify such title to the Secretary of State, to be placed upon the ballot; on county and municipal measures such title shall be submitted to the county election board and shall by said board be placed upon the ballot in such county or municipal election. Limitation. No limitation shall be placed upon the number of constitutional amendments, laws, or other measures which may be proposed and submitted to the people by either initiative or referendum petition as provided in this section. No petition shall be held invalid if it shall contain a greater number of signatures than required herein.

Verification. Only legal votes shall be counted upon petitions. Petitions may be circulated and presented in parts, but each part of any petition shall have attached thereto the affidavit of the person circulating the same, that all signatures thereon were made in the presence of the affiant, and that to the best of the affiant's knowledge and belief each signature is genuine, and that the person signing is a legal voter and no other affidavit or verification shall be required to establish the genuineness of such signatures.

Sufficiency. The sufficiency of all state-wide petitions shall be decided in the first instance by the Secretary of State, subject to review by the Supreme Court of the State, which shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction over all such causes. The sufficiency of all local petitions shall be decided in the first instance by the county clerk or the city clerk as the case may be, subject to review by the chancery court.

Court Decisions. If the sufficiency of any petition is challenged such cause shall be a preference cause and shall be tried at once, but the failure of the courts to decide prior to the election as to the sufficiency of any such petition, shall not prevent the question from being placed upon the ballot at the election named in such petition, nor militate against the validity of such measure, if it shall have been approved by a vote of the people.

Amendment of Petition.
(a)(1) If the Secretary of State, county clerk or city clerk, as the case may be, shall decide any petition to be insufficient, he shall without delay notify the sponsors of such petition, and permit at least thirty (30) days from the date of such notification, in the instance of a state-wide petition, or ten (10) days in the instance of a municipal or county petition, for correction or amendment.

(2) For 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 seventy-five percent (75%) of the number of state-wide signatures of legal voters required; and
(B) At least seventy-five percent (75%) of the required number of signatures of legal voters from each of at least fifteen (15) counties of the state.

(b)In the event of legal proceedings to prevent giving legal effect to any petition upon any grounds, the burden of proof shall be upon the person or persons attacking the validity of the petition.

Unwarranted Restrictions Prohibited. No law shall be passed to prohibit any person or persons from giving or receiving compensation for circulating petitions, nor to prohibit the circulation of petitions, nor in any manner interfering with the freedom of the people in procuring petitions; but laws shall be enacted prohibiting and penalizing perjury, forgery, and all other felonies or other fraudulent practices, in the securing of signatures or filing of petitions.

Publication. All measures submitted to a vote of the people by petition under the provisions of this section shall be published as is now, or hereafter may be provided by law.

Enacting Clause. The style of all bills initiated and submitted under the provisions of this section shall be, "Be It Enacted by the People of the State of Arkansas, (municipality or county, as the case may be)." In submitting measures to the people, the Secretary of State and all other officials shall be guided by the general election laws or municipal laws as the case may be until additional legislation is provided therefore.

Self-Executing. This section shall be self-executing, and all its provisions shall be treated as mandatory, but laws may be enacted to facilitate its operation. No legislation shall be enacted to restrict, hamper or impair the exercise of the rights herein reserved to the people.[1]


Section 2

Text of Section 2:

House of Representatives

The House of Representatives shall consist of members to be chosen every second year, by the qualified electors of the several counties.[3]

Section 3

Text of Section 3:


The Senate shall consist of members to be chosen every four years, by the qualified electors of the several districts. At the first session of the Senate, the Senators shall divide themselves into two classes, by lot, and the first class shall hold their places for two years only, after which all shall be elected for four years.[4]

Section 4

Text of Section 4:

Qualifications of Senators and Representatives

No person shall be a Senator or Representative who, at the time of his election, is not a citizen of the United States, nor any one who has not been for two years next preceding his election, a resident of this State, and for one year next preceding his election, a resident of the county or district whence he may be chosen. Senators shall be at least twenty-five years of age, and Representatives at least twenty-one years of age.[5]

Section 5

Text of Section 5:

Regular and fiscal sessions

(a) The General Assembly shall meet at the seat of government every year.

(b) The General Assembly shall meet in regular session on the second Monday in January of each odd-numbered year to consider any bill or resolution. The General Assembly may alter the time at which the regular session begins.

(c) (1) Beginning in 2010, the General Assembly shall meet in fiscal session on the second Monday in February of each even-numbered year to consider only appropriation bills. The General Assembly may alter the time at which the fiscal session begins.

(2) A bill other than an appropriation bill may be considered in a fiscal session if two-thirds (2/3) of the members of each house of the General Assembly approve consideration of the bill.

(d) The General Assembly, by a vote of two-thirds (2/3) of the members elected to each house of the General Assembly, may alter the dates of the regular session and fiscal session so that regular sessions occur in even numbered years and the fiscal sessions occur in odd-numbered years.[6]


Section 6

Text of Section 6:

Vacancies - Writs of Election

The Governor shall issue writs of election, to fill such vacancies as shall occur in either house of the General Assembly.[7]

Section 7

Text of Section 7:

Officers Ineligible

No judge of the Supreme, Circuit or inferior courts of law or equity, Secretary of State, Attorney General for the State, Auditor or Treasurer, Recorder, clerk of any court of record, Sheriff, Coroner, member of Congress, nor any other person holding any lucrative office under the United States or this State (militia officers, justices of the peace, postmaster's, officers of public schools and notaries excepted), shall be eligible to a seat in either house of the General Assembly.[8]

Section 8

Text of Section 8:

Defaulters Ineligible

No person who now is, or shall be hereafter, a collector or holder of public money, nor any assistant or deputy of such holder or collector of public money, shall be eligible to a seat in either house of the General Assembly, nor to any office of trust or profit, until he shall have accounted for, and paid over, all sums for which he may have been liable.[9]

Section 9

Text of Section 9:

Persons Convicted Ineligible

No person hereafter convicted of embezzlement of public money, bribery, forgery or other infamous crime, shall be eligible to the General Assembly or capable of holding any office of trust or profit in this State.[10]

Section 10

Text of Section 10:

Members Ineligible to Civil Office

No Senator or Representative shall, during the term for which he shall have been elected, be appointed or elected to any civil office under this State.[11]

Section 11

Text of Section 11:

Appointment of Officers - Qualifications of Members - Quorum

Each house shall appoint its own officers, and shall be sole judge of the qualifications, returns and elections of its own members. A majority of all the members elected to each house shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner and under such penalties as each house shall provide.[12]

Section 12

Text of Section 12:

Powers and Duties of Each House

Each house shall have power to determine the rules of its proceedings; and punish its members, or other persons, for contempt or disorderly behavior in its presence; enforce obedience to its process; to protect its members against violence or offers of bribes, or private solicitations; and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member; but not a second time for the same cause. A member expelled for corruption shall not, thereafter, be eligible to either house; and punishment for contempt, or disorderly behavior, shall not bar an indictment for the same offense. Each house shall keep a journal of its proceedings; and, from time to time, publish the same, except such parts as require secrecy; and the yeas and nays, on any question, shall, at the desire of any five members, be entered on the journals.[13]

Section 13

Text of Section 13:

Sessions to Be Open

The sessions of each house, and of committees of the whole, shall be open, unless when the business is such as ought to be kept secret.[14]

Section 14

Text of Section 14:

Election of Officers by General Assembly

Whenever an officer, civil or military, shall be appointed by the joint or concurrent vote of both houses, or by the separate vote of either house of the General Assembly, the vote shall be taken viva voce, and entered on the journals.[15]

Section 15

Text of Section 15:

Privileges of Members

The members of the General Assembly shall, in all cases except treason, felony, and breach or surety of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the sessions of their respective houses; and, in going to and returning from the same; and, for any speech or debate in either house, they shall not be questioned in any other place.[16]

Section 16

Text of Section 16:



Section 17

Text of Section 17:

Duration of Sessions

(a) A regular biennial session shall not exceed sixty (60) calendar days in duration, unless extended by a vote of two-thirds (2/3) of the members elected to each house of the General Assembly. The regular biennial session shall not exceed seventy five (75) calendar days in duration, unless extended by a vote of three-fourths (¾) of the members elected to each house of the General Assembly.

(b) A fiscal session shall not exceed thirty (30) calendar days in duration, except that by a vote of three-fourths (¾) of the members elected to each house of the General Assembly a fiscal session may be extended one (1) time by no more than fifteen (15) calendar days.

(c) Provided, that this section shall not apply when impeachments are pending.[18]


Section 18

Text of Section 18:

Presiding officers

Each house, at the beginning of every regular session of the General Assembly, and whenever a vacancy may occur, shall elect from its members a presiding officer, to be styled, respectively, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives; and whenever, at the close of any session, it may appear that the term of the member elected President of the Senate will expire before the next regular session, the Senate shall elect another President from those members whose terms of office continue over, who shall qualify and remain President of the Senate until his successor may be elected and qualified; and who, in the case of a vacancy in the office of Governor, shall perform the duties and exercise the powers of Governor as elsewhere herein provided.[19]

Section 19

Text of Section 19:

Style of Laws - Enacting Clause

The style of the laws of the State of Arkansas shall be: "Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Arkansas."[20]

Section 20

Text of Section 20:

State Not Made Defendant

The State of Arkansas shall never be made defendant in any of her courts.[21]

Section 21

Text of Section 21:

Laws by Bills - Amendment

No law shall be passed except by bill, and no bill shall be so altered or amended on its passage through either house, as to change its original purpose. [22]

Section 22

Text of Section 22:

Passage of Bills

Every bill shall be read at length, on three different days, in each house; unless the rules be suspended by two-thirds of the house, when the same may be read a second or third time on the same day; and no bill shall become a law unless, on its final passage, the vote be taken by yeas and nays; the names of the persons voting for and against the same be entered on the journal; and a majority of each house be recorded thereon as voting in its favor.[23]

Section 23

Text of Section 23:

Revival, Amendment or Extension of Laws

No law shall be revived, amended, or the provisions thereof extended or conferred, by reference to its title only; but so much thereof as is revived, amended, extended or conferred, shall be reenacted and published at length.[24]

Section 24

Text of Section 24:

Local and Special Laws

The General Assembly shall not pass any local or special law, changing the venue in criminal cases; changing the names of persons, or adopting or legitimating children; granting divorces; vacating roads, streets or alleys.[25]

Section 25

Text of Section 25:

Special Laws - Suspension of General Laws

In all cases where a general law can be made applicable, no special law shall be enacted; nor shall the operation of any general law be suspended by the legislature for the benefit of any particular individual, corporation or association; nor where the courts have jurisdiction to grant the powers, or the privileges, or the relief asked for.[26]

Section 26

Text of Section 26:

Notice of Local or Special Bills

No local or special bill shall be passed, unless notice of the intention to apply therefore shall have been published, in the locality where the matter or the thing to be affected may be situated; which notice shall be, at least, thirty days prior to the introduction into the General Assembly of such bill, and in the manner to be provided by law. The evidence of such notice having been published, shall be exhibited in the General Assembly before such act shall be passed.[27]

Section 27

Text of Section 27:

Extra Compensation Prohibited - Exception

No extra compensation shall be made to any officer, agent, employee, or contractor, after the service shall have been rendered, or the contract made; nor shall any money be appropriated or paid on any claim, the subject matter of which shall not have been provided for by preexisting laws; unless such compensation, or claim, be allowed by bill passed by two-thirds of the members elected to each branch of the General Assembly.[28]

Section 28

Text of Section 28:


Neither house shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days; nor to any other place than that in which the two houses shall be sitting.[29]

Section 29

Text of Section 29:


Except as provided in Arkansas Constitution, Article 19, § 31, no money shall be drawn from the treasury except in pursuance of specific appropriation made by law, the purpose of which shall be distinctly stated in the bill, and the maximum amount which may be drawn shall be specified in dollars and cents; and no appropriations made by the General Assembly after December 31, 2008, shall be for a longer period than one (1) fiscal year.[30]


Section 30

Text of Section 30:

General and Special Appropriations

Except as provided in Arkansas Constitution, Article 19, § 31, the general appropriation bill shall embrace nothing but appropriations for the ordinary expenses of the executive, legislative and judicial departments of the State; all other appropriations shall be made by separate bills, each embracing but one subject.[31]


Section 31

Text of Section 31:

Purposes of Taxes and Appropriations

No State tax shall be allowed, or appropriation of money made, except to raise means for the payment of the just debts of the State, for defraying the necessary expenses of government, to sustain common schools, to repel invasion and suppress insurrection, except by a majority of two-thirds of both houses of the General Assembly.[32]

Section 32

Text of Section 32:

Workmen's Compensation Laws - Actions for Personal Injuries

The General Assembly shall have power to enact laws prescribing the amount of compensation to be paid by employers for injuries to or death of employees, and to whom said payment shall be made. It shall have power to provide the means, methods, and forum for adjudicating claims arising under said laws, and for securing payment of same. Provided, that otherwise no law shall be enacted limiting the amount to be recovered for injuries resulting in death or for injuries to persons or property; and in case of death from such injuries the right of action shall survive, and the General Assembly shall prescribe for whose benefit such action shall be prosecuted.[33]


Amended by Constitutional Amendment 26.

Section 33

Text of Section 33:

Liabilities of Corporations to State

No obligation or liability of any railroad, or other corporation, held or owned by this State shall ever be exchanged, transferred, remitted, postponed or in any way diminished by the General Assembly; nor shall such liability or obligation be released, except by payment thereof into the State treasury.[34]

Section 34

Text of Section 34:

Introduction of bills - Time limit

No new bill shall be introduced into either house during the last three days of a regular or fiscal session.[35]


Section 35

Text of Section 35:

Bribery of member of General Assembly or state officer.

Any person who shall, directly or indirectly, offer, give, or promise any money, or thing of value, testimonial, privilege or personal advantage to any executive or judicial officer, or member of the General Assembly; and any such executive or judicial officer, or member of the General Assembly, who shall receive or consent to receive any such consideration, either directly or indirectly, to influence his action in the performance or non performance of his public or official duty, shall be guilty of a felony, and be punished accordingly.[36]

Section 36

Text of Section 36:

Expulsion of Member No Bar to Indictment

Proceedings to expel a member for a criminal offense, whether successful or not, shall not bar an indictment and punishment, under the criminal laws, for the same offense.[37]

Section 37

Text of Section 37:

Laws - Enactment - Majority Required

§ 1. Not less than a majority of the members of each House of the General Assembly may enact a law.[38]


Section 38

Text of Section 38:

Taxes - Increase - Approval by electors

§ 2. None of the rates for property, excise, privilege or personal taxes, now levied shall be increased by the General Assembly except after the approval of the qualified electors voting thereon at an election, or in case of emergency, by the votes of three-fourths of the members elected to each House of the General Assembly.[40]


Section 39

Text of Section 39:

State Expenses - Limitation - Exceptions

§ 3. EExcepting monies raised or collected for educational purposes, highway purposes, to pay Confederate pensions and the just debts of the State, the General Assembly is hereby prohibited from appropriating or expending more than the sum of Two and One-Half Million Dollars for all purposes, for any fiscal year; provided the limit herein fixed may be exceeded by the votes of three-fourths of the members elected to each House of the General Assembly.[41]


Section 40

Text of Section 40:

State Expenses - Limitation - Exceptions

§ 4. In making appropriations for any fiscal year, the General Assembly shall first pass the General Appropriation Bill provided for in Section 30 of Article 5 of the Constitution, and no other appropriation bill may be enacted before that shall have been done.[42]


Section 41

Text of Section 40:

Expenses Incurred or Authorized Only by Bill - Repealing Clause

§ 5. No expense shall be incurred or authorized for either House except by a bill duly passed by both Houses and approved by the Governor.[43]


Section 42

Text of Section 42:

Expenses Incurred or Authorized Only by Bill - Repealing Clause

(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.


See also

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