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:On the ballot
The Arkansas Elected Officials Ethics, Transparency and Financial Reform Amendment, Issue 3 is on the November 4, 2014 election ballot in Arkansas as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. If approved, the amendment would permit legislators to serve a total of 16 years in the House or Senate and establish limits on lobbying efforts by former legislators, as well as campaign donations and gifts from lobbyists. It would further form a separate, seven-member commission to determine state elected officials' salaries. The amendment was sponsored by Rep. Warwick Sabin (D-33) in the Arkansas General Assembly, where it was known as House Joint Resolution 1009.[1]

Background

See also: Arkansas Term Limits Initiative, Amendment 4 (1992)

Currently, representatives can serve up to three two-year terms while senators can serve up to two four-year terms.[2][3]

Text of measure

Popular name

The official popular name given to this measure is as follows:[4]

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[5]

Ballot title

The official ballot title given to this measure is as follows:[4]

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.[5]

Support

Rep. Sabin sponsored HJR 1009.

Supporters

Arguments

After attempting and failing to get a similar ethics measure on the ballot in 2012, the citizens' group Regnat Populus supports the measure. 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."[2] 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.[5]

Rep. Warwick Sabin, [2]

Opposition

AR2014 Save Term Limits logo.jpeg

Opponents

Arkansas Term Limits, also known as Save AR Term Limits, is chaired by Tim Jacob, a painter and small business owner in Little Rock. In 1992, Jacob ran a successful campaign that created the current term limits. Other members of the committee include Skip Cook, who was also involved in the 1992 campaign, and Bob Porto.[7]

Arguments

Opponents of the measure have called it "deceptive," and claim that the legislature buried the term limits change under a facade of ethics reform.[8] They have also challenged the ballot title language as being misleading by saying the measure sets term limits when it will actually be lengthening already set term limits.[9][7]

Opponents have also pointed out that the amendment contains a loophole for corporate contributions. While the amendment prohibits corporations from donating directly to political candidates, they may still donate to their own PACs, which can count as contributing to a candidate[10]

Jacob has 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.[5]

—Tim Jacob, [7]


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.[11]

Campaign contributions

Arkansas Term Limits filed their statement of organization with the Arkansas Ethics Commission on January 8, 2014.[12] The following amounts are accurate as of the committee's May 2014 report. A total of $65 of the contributions received by the group came from unitemized contributions of less than $50.[13][14][15][16][17]

PAC info:

PAC Amount raised Amount spent
Arkansas Term Limits $2,665 $709
Total $2,665 $709

Top 5 contributors:

Donor Amount
Jerry Sears $800
Kathleen Wikstrom $500
Mark Riable $500
Debbie Pelley $200
Travis Porter $150

Competing initiative & 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.[18] 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.[19]

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, [20]

It appears that some groups may try to use this legal gray area to challenge the legislatively-referred constitutional amendments. Arkansas Term Limits has expressed the possibility of using a lawsuit to challenge the legality of the measures due to the confusion caused by Act 1413.[20] 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.[21]

Polls

See also: Polls, 2014 ballot measures

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.[22]

Legend

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

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
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


Path to the ballot

2014 measures
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November 4
Issue 1
Issue 2
Issue 3
PollsFull text

HJR 1009 was initially rejected by the Joint Committee on Constitutional Amendments. However, it was later approved.[23] Section 22 of Article 19 of the Arkansas Constitution says that a majority vote is 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.[1] The House followed with a vote of 76 to three on April 19, 2013.[2]

Senate vote

April 18, 2013 Senate vote

Arkansas Elected Officials Ethics Amendment, HJR 1009 Senate vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 23 85%
No415%

House vote

April 19, 2013 House vote

Arkansas Elected Officials Ethics Amendment, 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 OpenStates.org, "HJR 1009 Arkansas House Joint Resolution, The Arkansas Elected Officials Ethics, Transparency and Financial Reform Amendment of 2014," accessed April 22, 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 The Republic, "Arkansas lawmakers send proposed amendments on ethics and petition rules to voters," April 19, 2013
  3. ArkansasFreedom.com, "Politicians try to extend term limits to 16 yrs," April 16, 2013
  4. 4.0 4.1 University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Public Policy Center, "NEWS & NOTES Arkansas Ballot Issues," June 13, 2014
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  6. Times Record, "Elections 2014: Group Pushes Effort to Kill Measure to Extend Legislative Terms," November 13, 2013
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Arkansas Times: Arkansas Blog, "Term limit advocates form group to fight constitutional amendment," January 8, 2014
  8. Save AR Term Limits blog, "The Cost of Deception," April 21, 2014
  9. No Uncertain Terms, "Arkansas: The most deceitful ballot title EVER?" April 20, 2014
  10. Arkansas Farm Bureau: "House Joint Resolution 1009 – The Arkansas Elected Officials Ethics, Transparency, and Financial Reform Amendment of 2014," accessed November 24, 2013
  11. Associated Press, "Arkansas Republicans oppose term limits, ethics measure on November ballot," July 19, 2014
  12. Arkansas Ethics Commission, "Legislative Questioning Committee Statement of Organization: Arkansas Term Limits," January 8, 2014
  13. Arkansas Ethics Commission, "Legislative Question Committee Financial Report: Arkansas Term Limits January 2014," February 10, 2014
  14. Arkansas Ethics Commission, "Legislative Question Committee Financial Report: Arkansas Term Limits February 2014," March 12, 2014
  15. Arkansas Ethics Commission, "Legislative Question Committee Financial Report: Arkansas Term Limits March 2014," April 15, 2014
  16. Arkansas Ethics Commission, "Legislative Question Committee Financial Report: Arkansas Term Limits April 2014," May 15, 2014
  17. Arkansas Ethics Commission, "Legislative Question Committee Financial Report: Arkansas Term Limits May 2014," June 13, 2014
  18. Arkansas Secretary of State, "Act 1413 of the 2013 Regular Session," accessed June 19, 2014
  19. Arkansas Legislative Digest Nightwriter Blog, "Oops — the three proposed constitutional amendments referred by the 2013 legislature are now in limbo," accessed June 19, 2014
  20. 20.0 20.1 Arkansas Business, "Secretary of State Approves Language for 3 Arkansas Ballot Measures," January 23, 2014
  21. Arkansas Times: Arkansas Blog, "UPDATE: Regnat Populus ethics group renews canvassing for initiated ethics law," January 15, 2014
  22. The City Wire, "Ethics-term limit proposal not popular with Arkansas voters," April 13, 2014
  23. Times Record, "Arkansas Legislature: Two Proposed Constitutional Amendments Clear Senate," April 18,2013