Issue 2 of 2016: Governor Keeps His Powers
Of all the proposed ballot issues for 2016, Issue 2 seems the most simple, and is one of three Constitutional amendment proposals brought to the voters by the Arkansas Legislature. This measure allows the Governor to keep his (or her) authority when he (or she) travels outside state boundaries (which is currently prohibited by the Arkansas Constitution).
House & Senate Votes on SJ3
Sponsored by Republican Senator Eddie Joe Williams as SJR3 in last April’s General Session, Issue 2 on the November 8 ballot is the second of 3 ballot questions the Arkansas Legislature is legally allowed each election cycle. Arkansas Republican Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin supports it, saying
Currently, the governor is unable to retain his or her powers and duties when absent from the state. Sen. Williams’ proposed constitutional amendment will change this outdated provision of the Arkansas Constitution. In this day and age, with technology and the ability to stay connected, it’s the right thing to do. Just as the president retains his or her powers when absent from the country, the governor should retain his or her powers when absent from the state. This is simply good government, and I will continue to advocate for this common sense reform.
In the Arkansas Senate, 30 voted “yes,” 1 was “non-voting” (Rice), 2 voted “present” (J Dismang, S Flowers), and 1 voted against (Alan Clark).
In the Arkansas House, 80 voted “yes” but 20 were registered as “non-voting” including: E Armstrong, C Armstrong, Bell, Copeland, Davis, Dotson, C Douglas, K Ferguson, Fielding, V Flowers, Gillam (Speaker), MJ Gray, Harris, Lemons, Love, Payton, Petty, Walker, Wallace, and Womack.
Issue 2 is said to be a direct result of a situation in 2013 when Democrat Governor Mike Beebe was at the National Governors Association Meeting in Washington, DC and Lieutenant Governor Republican Mark Darr was Acting Governor. During Beebe’s trip, Darr signed into law a bill that closed concealed handgun records to the public — a piece of legislation Beebe had opposed but had said he would allow to become law without his signature upon his return.
Another difficult situation was in early 1993, when former state Senate Pro Tem Jerry Jewell, a black Little Rock Democrat, granted executive clemency to 2 people and pardoned 2 other prisoners while Acting Governor; 3 of the 4 were black. Democrat Governor Jim Guy Tucker was away at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration and Arkansas had no lieutenant governor to step in because Tucker had automatically become Governor when Clinton resigned upon winning the White House.
Some info sourced from the UofA Division of Agriculture’s 2016 Ballot Issues Guide, the state repository of Arkansas Supreme Court rulings, Ballotpedia, and the Arkansas Legislature website.