Arkansas Elected Officials Ethics, Transparency and Financial Reform Amendment, Issue 3 (2014)

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Issue 3
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Type:Legislatively-referred constitutional amendment
Constitution:Arkansas Constitution
Referred by:Arkansas State Legislature
Topic:Term limits
Status:Approved Approveda
2014 measures
Seal of Arkansas.svg.png
November 4
Issue 1 Approveda
Issue 2 Approveda
Issue 3 Approveda
Issue 4 Defeatedd
Issue 5 Approveda
PollsFull text
The Arkansas Elected Officials Ethics, Transparency and Financial Reform Amendment, Issue 3 was on the November 4, 2014 election ballot in Arkansas as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved.

The amendment permitted legislators to serve a total of 16 years in the House or Senate - thereby doubling and more than doubling the amount of time a lawmaker can stay in the Arkansas Senate and House, respectively - and established limits on lobbying efforts by former legislators, as well as campaign donations and gifts from lobbyists.

It further required the formation of a separate, seven-member commission to determine state elected officials' salaries. The seven members of the committee will be appointed, as opposed to elected. Four of the commissioners will be chosen by the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate; two more will be selected by the governor, and one will be appointed by the Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court.[1]

The amendment was sponsored by Rep. Warwick Sabin (D-33) in the Arkansas General Assembly, where it was known as House Joint Resolution 1009.[2] Because it was approved, Issue 3 amended and repealed multiple sections of the Arkansas Constitution.

Election results

Below are the official, certified election results:

Arkansas Issue 3
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 428,206 52.43%
No388,45947.57%

Election results via: Arkansas Secretary of State

Text of measure

Popular name

The official popular name given to this measure was:[3]

An Amendment Regulating Contributions to Candidates for State or Local Office, Barring Gifts from Lobbyists to Certain State Officials, Providing for Setting Salaries of Certain State Officials, and Setting Term Limits for Members of the General Assembly[4]

Ballot title

The official ballot title given to this measure was:[3]

To amend the Arkansas Constitution concerning elected state officials; prohibiting members of the General Assembly and elected constitutional officers of the executive department from accepting gifts from lobbyists, and defining key terms relating to that prohibition; prohibiting members of the General Assembly from setting their own salaries and the salaries of elected constitutional officers of the executive department, justices, and judges; establishing a seven-member independent citizens commission to set salaries for members of the general assembly, elected constitutional officers of the executive department, justices, and judges; establishing the appointment process for members of the independent citizens commission, and prohibiting members of the independent citizens commission from accepting gifts from lobbyists; prohibiting certain contributions, including contributions by corporations, to candidates for public office; prohibiting a member of the General Assembly from registering as a lobbyist until two (2) years after the expiration of his or her term; and establishing term limits for members of the General Assembly.[4]

Constitutional changes

Arkansas Constitution
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Preamble
Articles
1234567891011121314151617181920ScheduleProclamation
Amendments

Issue 3 added several new sections to Article 19 of the Arkansas Constitution. Additionally, it amended the following sections:

It also repealed the following:

The full text of the changes can be read here.

Background

See also: Arkansas Term Limits Initiative, Amendment 4 (1992) and Arkansas House of Representatives Term Limit, Proposal 1 (2004)

Previously, representatives could serve up to three two-year terms, while senators could serve up to two four-year terms.[5][6] Arkansans first implemented term limits in 1992 via the approval of Amendment 4. Sixty percent of state voters approved the measure, making the largest affirmative vote in state history. In 2004, legislators referred Proposal 1 to the ballot, which attempted to extend the term limits applicable to members of the Arkansas House of Representatives from three two-year terms to six two-year terms and the term limits applicable to the members of the Arkansas Senate from two four-year terms to three four-year terms. Voters turned down this measure by a vote of 70.1 percent to 29.9 percent.

Much of the language and provisions in Issue 3 were pulled from a 2012 initiative that failed to make the ballot. One major difference between the 2012 initiative and Issue 3 was that the 2012 measure was an initiated state statute and did not attempt to amend the Arkansas Constitution. At the time of its approval, Issue 3 comprised roughly one-eighth of the entire state constitution, including all 85 previous amendments. Due to the measure's extreme length, it cost the state more than $1 million to print it in newspapers throughout the state, as required by law.[1]

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 for 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, 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.[4]

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

Competing initiative

Some groups considered trying to use this legal gray area to challenge the legislatively-referred constitutional amendments. Arkansas Term Limits expressed the possibility of using a lawsuit to challenge the legality of the measures due to the confusion caused by Act 1413.[9] In light of these legal issues, Regnat Populus announced on January 15, 2014, they would resume collecting signatures for an initiative to ban corporate contributions to campaigns, end gifts from lobbyists and extend the required waiting period between being a public official and becoming a lobbyist. Despite their opposite stances on Issue 3, Arkansas Term Limits applauded this decision by Regnat Populus.[10] However, the Regnat Populus initiative did not end up moving forward.

Support

Rep. Sabin sponsored HJR 1009.

Supporters

Arguments

  • Regnat Populus attempted and failed to get a similar ethics measure on the ballot in 2012. David Couch, co-chairman of Regnat Populus, said, "I think that we'll be able to convince the people of Arkansas that this is the right thing to do."[5] Sponsor Rep. Sabin said of the measure,
If people are educated on its substance, if they aren't persuaded by glib arguments that denigrate public service, if they understand that this is one of the substantive ethics reform proposals that have been before voters in a couple decades, I think they'll want to approve it.[4]

Rep. Warwick Sabin, [5]

  • According to a report on Issue 3 published by The Public Policy Center of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research and Extension, arguments in support of Issue 3 included:[11]
What do supporters say?
  • The change in term limits would counter the influence of lobbyists and bureaucrats, and generally make government work better.
  • They're the strongest ethics reforms that have been proposed in at least 20 years. Just the ban on lobbyist gifts alone will radically change the culture of the Legislature and how business is done there.
  • An independent citizen's committee would remove salaries from the political process.
  • The legislature is a full-time position that pays part time. You get what you pay for. [4]

—The Public Policy Center of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research and Extension

HJR 1009 "Yes" votes

The following members of the Arkansas Legislature voted in favor of putting HJR 1009 on the ballot:[12][13]

Note: A yes vote on HJR 1009 merely referred the question to voters and did not necessarily mean these legislators approved of the stipulations laid out in Issue 3.

House

Senate

Opposition

300

Opponents

Arkansas Term Limits, also known as Save AR Term Limits, was chaired by Tim Jacob, a painter and small business owner in Little Rock. In 1992, Jacob ran a successful campaign that created the term limits that were in place prior to Issue 3's approval. Other members of the committee included Skip Cook, who was also involved in the 1992 campaign, and Bob Porto.[15]

Save Arkansas Term Limits' Trojan Horse campaign

The opposing campaign traveled around the state with a ten-foot-tall Trojan horse in tow, symbolizing what they believe was an act of fraud and deception being perpetrated against the state's voters. "We're working to get the word out to voters that Issue 3 is a Trojan Horse from legislators and lobbyists. The ballot title is terribly misleading, and voters need to know to vote against this effort, which would more than double the limits in place," Jacob explained.[16]

Arguments

Opponents of the measure called it "deceptive," and claimed that the legislature buried the term limits change under a facade of ethics reform.[17] They also challenged the ballot title language as being misleading by saying the measure set term limits when it actually lengthened already set term limits.[18][15]

Opponents also pointed out that the amendment contained a loophole for corporate contributions. While the amendment prohibited corporations from donating directly to political candidates, they may still donate to their own PACs, which can count as contributing to a candidate.[19]

Jacob stated the campaign's goals as,

We are asking that this tricky anti-term limits amendment be taken out of the so-called Ethics amendment. It’s unethical to hide the lengthening of political terms in a so called ethics amendment. It’s unethical to trick the voters.[4]

—Tim Jacob, [15]


Tim Jacob, chairman of Arkansas Term Limits, speaks to the Monticello Tea Party about Issue 3.

On July 19, 2014, delegates at the Arkansas Republican Party convention approved a resolution to oppose Issue 3. The resolution specifically opposed the measure on the grounds of extending term limits without making comment on the other aspects of the measure.[20]


According to a report on Issue 3 published by The Public Policy Center of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research and Extension, arguments in opposition to Issue 3 included:[11]

What do opponents say?
  • The amendment’s title regarding term limits is deceptive because it makes people think there aren’t term limits for Arkansas legislators.
  • The amendment would lengthen political terms and Arkansans are somewhat satisfied with the existing limits.
  • An independent citizens committee should not set salaries. There should be a straight-up legislative vote on salary so people know how legislators voted.
  • It is a deceptive amendment that uses the subject

of ethics to get substantial benefits for legislators.[4]

—The Public Policy Center of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research and Extension

HJR 1009 "No" votes


A campaign ad opposing Issue 3, put out by Arkansas Term Limits

The following members of the Arkansas Legislature voted against putting HJR 1009 on the ballot:[12][13]

Note: A no vote on HJR 1009 meant that a legislator did not want to refer the question to voters and did not necessarily mean these legislators disapproved of the stipulations laid out in Issue 3.

House

Senate

Campaign contributions


A campaign ad opposing Issue 3, put out by Arkansas Term Limits

Arkansas Term Limits filed their statement of organization with the Arkansas Ethics Commission on January 8, 2014.[21] The following amounts are accurate as of the committee's final October 2014 report.[22][23][24][25][26][27][28]

PAC info:

PAC Amount raised Amount spent
Arkansas Term Limits $449,428 $438,066
Total $449,428 $438,066

Top contributors:

Donor Amount
U.S. Term Limits $409,010
Lisenne D. Rockefeller $20,000
Liberty Initiative Fund $6,000
Kathleen Wikstrom $3,500
Jim Laidlaw $2,000

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of Arkansas ballot measures, 2014

Opposition

  • The Arkansas Business said,
But ballot Issue No. 3 isn’t just about ethics reforms. Instead, it’s a freakish hybrid, a gambit to trick voters into expanding term limits for state legislators in exchange for tighter legislative ethics rules. It would partially nullify Amendment 73 to the state Constitution, which passed in 1992 with 60 percent of the vote and which limited lawmakers to three two-year terms in the Arkansas House and two four-year terms in the Senate, for a total of 14 years.[4]

Arkansas Business, [29]

Polls

See also: Polls, 2014 ballot measures
Legend

     Position is ahead and at or over 50%     Position is ahead or tied, but under 50%

A poll conducted on April 3 and 4, 2014, by the Talk Business-Hendrix College found only 25 percent of respondents approve of Issue 3, while 57 percent disapprove of it. This was the second time the college had surveyed this question. The previous survey in October 2013 found similar results, with 32 percent supporting and 50 percent disapproving.[30]

Arkansas Issue 3 (2014)
Poll Support OpposeUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Talk Business Research & Hendrix College
4/2/2014-4/3/2014
25%57%18%+/-31,068
Talk Business Research & Hendrix College
10/15/2014-10/16/2014
23%62%15%+/-2.22,075
AVERAGES 24% 59.5% 16.5% +/-2.6 1,571.5
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.


Lawsuits

See also: List of ballot measure lawsuits in 2014

Rich et al. lawsuit

On August 1, 2014, Yvonne Rich, Frederick Scott and Kathleen Wikstrom filed a lawsuit against Issue 3 arguing the measure was misleading by telling voters it would set term limits when it would actually be extending already existing limits. Secretary of State Mark Martin's office stated its attorneys would review the case.[31] The lawsuit asked the court not to allow the secretary of state's office to count or certify any votes on the issue. It also alleged that mixing the term limits issue with the ethics measures of Issue 3 was "manifest fraud."[32]

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the Arkansas Constitution

HJR 1009 was initially rejected by the Joint Committee on Constitutional Amendments. However, it was later approved.[33] At the time of the election, Section 22 of Article 19 of the Arkansas Constitution said a majority vote was required in both houses of the Arkansas Legislature in order to send measures to the ballot. The Senate voted 23 to four to approve the amendment on April 18, 2013.[2] The House followed with a vote of 76 to three on April 19, 2013.[5]

Senate vote

April 18, 2013 Senate vote

Arkansas HJR 1009 Senate vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 23 85%
No415%

House vote

April 19, 2013 House vote

Arkansas HJR 1009 House vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 76 96%
No34%

Related measures

See also

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Suggest a link

External links

Additional reading

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Townhall, "The Deceivers," October 19, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 OpenStates.org, "HJR 1009 Arkansas House Joint Resolution, The Arkansas Elected Officials Ethics, Transparency and Financial Reform Amendment of 2014," accessed April 22, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Public Policy Center, "NEWS & NOTES Arkansas Ballot Issues," June 13, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 The Republic, "Arkansas lawmakers send proposed amendments on ethics and petition rules to voters," April 19, 2013
  6. ArkansasFreedom.com, "Politicians try to extend term limits to 16 yrs," April 16, 2013
  7. Arkansas Secretary of State, "Act 1413 of the 2013 Regular Session," accessed June 19, 2014
  8. Arkansas Legislative Digest Nightwriter Blog, "Oops — the three proposed constitutional amendments referred by the 2013 legislature are now in limbo," accessed June 19, 2014
  9. 9.0 9.1 Arkansas Business, "Secretary of State Approves Language for 3 Arkansas Ballot Measures," January 23, 2014
  10. Arkansas Times: Arkansas Blog, "UPDATE: Regnat Populus ethics group renews canvassing for initiated ethics law," January 15, 2014
  11. 11.0 11.1 The Public Policy Center of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research and Extension, "THE ARKANSAS ELECTED OFFICIALS ETHICS, TRANSPARENCY, AND FINANCIAL REFORM AMENDMENT OF 2014," accessed October 14, 2014
  12. 12.0 12.1 OpenStates.org, "House Vote on HJR 1009 (Apr 19, 2013)," accessed October 13, 2014
  13. 13.0 13.1 OpenStates.org, "Senate Vote on HJR 1009 (Apr 18, 2013)," accessed October 13, 2014
  14. Times Record, "Elections 2014: Group Pushes Effort to Kill Measure to Extend Legislative Terms," November 13, 2013
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Arkansas Times: Arkansas Blog, "Term limit advocates form group to fight constitutional amendment," January 8, 2014
  16. Ashley County Ledger, "Issue 3 Foes Display ‘Trojan Horse’ As Example of Proposal’s Impact," October 21, 2014
  17. Save AR Term Limits blog, "The Cost of Deception," April 21, 2014
  18. No Uncertain Terms, "Arkansas: The most deceitful ballot title EVER?" April 20, 2014
  19. Arkansas Farm Bureau: "House Joint Resolution 1009 – The Arkansas Elected Officials Ethics, Transparency, and Financial Reform Amendment of 2014," accessed November 24, 2013
  20. Associated Press, "Arkansas Republicans oppose term limits, ethics measure on November ballot," July 19, 2014
  21. Arkansas Ethics Commission, "Legislative Questioning Committee Statement of Organization: Arkansas Term Limits," January 8, 2014
  22. Arkansas Ethics Commission, "Legislative Question Committee Financial Report: Arkansas Term Limits January 2014," February 10, 2014
  23. Arkansas Ethics Commission, "Legislative Question Committee Financial Report: Arkansas Term Limits February 2014," March 12, 2014
  24. Arkansas Ethics Commission, "Legislative Question Committee Financial Report: Arkansas Term Limits March 2014," April 15, 2014
  25. Arkansas Ethics Commission, "Legislative Question Committee Financial Report: Arkansas Term Limits April 2014," May 15, 2014
  26. Arkansas Ethics Commission, "Legislative Question Committee Financial Report: Arkansas Term Limits May 2014," June 13, 2014
  27. Arkansas Ethics Commission, "Legislative Question Committee Financial Report: Arkansas Term Limits September 2014," accessed October 20, 2014
  28. Arkansas Ethics Commission, "Legislative Question Committee Financial Report: Arkansas Term Limits October 2014," accessed December 5, 2014
  29. Arkansas Business, "No on Issue No. 3 (Editorial)," September 22, 2014
  30. The City Wire, "Ethics-term limit proposal not popular with Arkansas voters," April 13, 2014
  31. Associated Press, "Lawsuit asks to toss proposed amendment off ballot," August 2, 2014
  32. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, "3 sue over term-limit amendment," August 2, 2014
  33. Times Record, "Arkansas Legislature: Two Proposed Constitutional Amendments Clear Senate," April 18, 2013