Aug 7, 2014
What Were They Thinking? Amendment 3 Stinks
This Amendment 3 stinks and needs to fail at the ballot box. It’s a bad joke the Arkansas Legislature put over on Arkansas voters. What were they thinking? It’s not bad enough that our state Legislature voted overwhelmingly to approve HJR1009 for the ballot, and some are saying they really didn’t understand what they voted...
It’s not bad enough that our state Legislature voted overwhelmingly to approve HJR1009 for the ballot, and some are saying they really didn’t understand what they voted for.
We all know the folks in Little Rock hid (on page 16 of the 22-page bill) an extension of existing term limits, with these few words:
(From Section 3. of the bill) … A member of the General Assembly shall serve no more than sixteen (16) years, whether consecutive or nonconsecutive.
By also striking out existing term limits language this clause lengthens term limits to 16 years in a single House or Senate seat!
Never mind that Arkansas voters have twice spoken very loudly on this issue: In 1992, 60% said 3 two-year terms in the State House and 2 four-year terms in the State Senate were sufficient. A 2004 effort to change our state’s term limits was defeated by 70% of Arkansas voters.
The lawsuit asks the court to not allow Secretary of State Mark Martin’s office to count or certify votes on the issue, and says mixing the term limits issue with the ethics measure is “manifest fraud.”
Now the Legislature tries to lengthen term limits by hiding this clause on page 16! The Legislature tells us it’s about “ethics reform,” but as Tim Jacobs correctly points out, the Legislature can vote on “ethics bills” anytime.
The only reason this legislation is couched as a constitutional amendment is to change term limits previously approved by an overwhelming majority of voters.
Even worse, especially in a legal document, the amendment deceptively says it is “establishing” term limits. Wouldn’t it be a shame if voters — who may be unaware of current law — were fooled by that phrase?
But wait … there’s even more to this. &
How about the other great constitutional change hidden inside HJR1009? As The Arkansas Project points out:
The proposal creates an “Independent Citizens Committee” to set salaries. Using the words “independent” and “citizens” makes it sound wonderful but would it sound wonderful if you described it as the “Committee Appointed by the Politicians Whose Salaries Are Being Set”?
Yes, the committee is made up of political appointees. The 7 member committee would be made up by: 2 people appointed by the Governor; 2 people appointed by the Speaker of the House; 2 people appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and 1 person appointed by the Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court.
Gee, do you suppose the committee members might look favorably on salary requests by the people who appointed them?
And the very worst part of it all is, the Legislature titled this ugly thing the “Arkansas Elected Officials Ethics, Transparency and Financial Reform Amendment.”
What a joke on Arkansas voters! This Amendment 3 stinks. Just vote NO.