May 26, 2020 •

Judge Ends Two-year Limit on Campaign Contributions in Arkansas

Akransas State Capitol

Arkansas State Capitol

A federal judge has made his temporary injunction permanent in allowing Arkansas candidates for statewide office to accept campaign contributions more than two years before an election. U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr. reinforced his initial ruling that it is […]

A federal judge has made his temporary injunction permanent in allowing Arkansas candidates for statewide office to accept campaign contributions more than two years before an election.

U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr. reinforced his initial ruling that it is unconstitutional for the state to ban contributions for state office candidates more than two years before an election.

In January, a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Moody’s decision to grant a preliminary injunction against the state’s blackout period for accepting campaign contributions.

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March 25, 2020 •

Arkansas Governor Calls Special Legislative Session

Akransas State Capitol

Arkansas State Capitol

Gov. Asa Hutchinson will call a special session of the Arkansas Legislature on Thursday, March 26. The session will fill budget holes caused by the economic fallout from COVID-19. Gov. Hutchinson announced the special session would grant him the authority […]

Gov. Asa Hutchinson will call a special session of the Arkansas Legislature on Thursday, March 26.

The session will fill budget holes caused by the economic fallout from COVID-19.

Gov. Hutchinson announced the special session would grant him the authority to use the state’s $173 million unallocated budget surplus.

He plans to fill budget needs after his administration cut the state’s general revenue by $353 million to $5.38 billion.

The governor made the budget cuts in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019.

The special session triggers a lobbyist activity report (monthly) due April 10 for the reporting period of March 1 through March 31.

The special session is expected to span three calendar days.

The House of Representatives will meet at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Jack Stephens Center rather than the Capitol to limit close contact of legislators.

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March 17, 2020 •

Arkansas Lawmakers Suspend Legislative Council Meetings

Akransas State Capitol

Arkansas State Capitol

On March 17, Arkansas legislative leaders announced a suspension of the Arkansas Legislative Council meetings. Specifically, this will affect the meetings scheduled for March 18 and March 19. The decision to suspend the meetings until further notice follows the latest […]

On March 17, Arkansas legislative leaders announced a suspension of the Arkansas Legislative Council meetings.

Specifically, this will affect the meetings scheduled for March 18 and March 19.

The decision to suspend the meetings until further notice follows the latest guidance regarding COVID-19.

House and Senate leadership continue to review contingency plans for this year’s regular session scheduled to begin April 8.

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March 5, 2020 •

Arkansas Contribution Blackout Unenforceable

Akransas State Capitol

Arkansas State Capitol

An order barring the state from enforcing a campaign contribution blackout period of more than two years was reinstated on March 3. Arkansas Code Annotated 7-6-203(e) prohibits candidates for state offices from accepting campaign contributions more than two years before […]

An order barring the state from enforcing a campaign contribution blackout period of more than two years was reinstated on March 3.

Arkansas Code Annotated 7-6-203(e) prohibits candidates for state offices from accepting campaign contributions more than two years before an election.

In place since 1996, the constitutionality of the law was challenged in June 2019.

The court agreed to stay the injunction, keeping the law in effect while the proceedings continued.

The injunction was affirmed on January 27.

This prompts the plaintiff’s attorney to push for the stay to be lifted, and the law to become unenforceable.

The stay was lifted on March 3, enjoining the state from enforcing the law while the lawsuit is pending.

A date has yet to be determined for a final hearing on the matter.

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January 30, 2020 •

Injunction Upheld in Arkansas Campaign Contribution Blackout Case

Akransas State Capitol

Arkansas State Capitol

A panel of federal appellate judges held on January 27 that a campaign contribution blackout law that has been in place in Arkansas since 1996 is likely unconstitutional. The panel upheld a preliminary injunction that U.S. District Judge James Moody […]

A panel of federal appellate judges held on January 27 that a campaign contribution blackout law that has been in place in Arkansas since 1996 is likely unconstitutional.

The panel upheld a preliminary injunction that U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr. imposed June 17 to prohibit Arkansas Code Annotated 7-6-203(e) from being enforced while its constitutionality is determined.

The law, part of a package of campaign-finance measures approved by voters in 1995, bars candidates for state offices from accepting campaign contributions more than two years before an election.

The constitutionality of the law was challenged as an infringement on the right of political expression by preventing contributions to potential candidates in the 2022 election cycle.

The state argued that the purpose of the blackout period is to prevent corruption or the appearance of corruption, but the panel said it hadn’t shown that early contributions present a greater risk of corruption than later contributions.

The Office of the Attorney General could seek a rehearing before the full 8th Circuit within 14 days.

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June 18, 2019 •

Arkansas to Appeal Rejection of Campaign Finance Rule

A federal judge blocked a state law that prevents candidates for public office from accepting campaign contributions more than two years before an election. The ruling prompted an immediate appeal from the attorney general. Plaintiff Peggy Jones of Pulaski County […]

A federal judge blocked a state law that prevents candidates for public office from accepting campaign contributions more than two years before an election.

The ruling prompted an immediate appeal from the attorney general.

Plaintiff Peggy Jones of Pulaski County filed suit on April 5 over Arkansas Code 7-6-203(e).

Jones claimed the blackout period infringed on her First Amendment right of political expression by preventing her from donating money now to those she wishes to support as candidates in the 2022 election cycle.

Jones contended the blackout period is unconstitutional because it is not closely drawn to address the important governmental interest of preventing corruption.

She also claimed the law is over-broad because it bars all campaign contributions, including small contributions that do not present a potential for corruption.

U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr. granted a preliminary injunction on June 17, enjoining the state from enforcing the law during the pendency of the matter.

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June 5, 2019 •

Arkansas Gov. Calls Special Election for House District 36

Akransas State Capitol

Arkansas State Capitol

A special election will take place on November 5 to fill a vacancy in House District 36. Former Rep. Charles Blake left office to become Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott’s chief of staff.

A special election will take place on November 5 to fill a vacancy in House District 36.

Former Rep. Charles Blake left office to become Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott’s chief of staff.

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April 24, 2019 •

Arkansas General Assembly Adjourns Sine Die

This week, the regular session of the 92nd Arkansas General Assembly adjourned sine die. Lasting a total of 88 days, the session ended Wednesday, April 24. The 93rd General Assembly is scheduled to convene on Monday, January 11, 2021.

This week, the regular session of the 92nd Arkansas General Assembly adjourned sine die.

Lasting a total of 88 days, the session ended Wednesday, April 24.

The 93rd General Assembly is scheduled to convene on Monday, January 11, 2021.

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March 13, 2019 •

Arkansas Gov. Signs Various Bills into Law

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed several bills into law. Senate Bill 249 increases the fines for violating ethics laws the Arkansas Ethics Commission may levy at violators from $2,000 to $3,500. Senate Bill 256 prohibits an elected state official from […]

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed several bills into law.

Senate Bill 249 increases the fines for violating ethics laws the Arkansas Ethics Commission may levy at violators from $2,000 to $3,500.

Senate Bill 256 prohibits an elected state official from registering as a lobbyist in any jurisdiction while serving as an elected state official and House Bill 1178 amends various sections of law related to competitive sealed bids.

The bills will become effective 90 days after the legislative session adjourns sine die.

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March 6, 2019 •

Two Ethics Bills on the way to Arkansas Governor for Signature

Senate Bills 249 and 256 have been passed by the Legislature are on the way to Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s desk. Senate Bill 249 increases the fines for violating ethics laws the Arkansas Ethics Commission may levy at violators from $2,000 […]

Senate Bills 249 and 256 have been passed by the Legislature are on the way to Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s desk.

Senate Bill 249 increases the fines for violating ethics laws the Arkansas Ethics Commission may levy at violators from $2,000 to $3,500.

Senate Bill 256 prohibits an elected state official from registering as a lobbyist in any jurisdiction while serving as an elected state official.

If signed by the governor, the bills will become effective 90 days after the legislative session adjourns sine die.

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February 20, 2019 •

Arkansas Ethics Commission Clarifies Gift Exception in Advisory Opinion

The Arkansas Ethics Commission clarified a gift exception in Advisory Opinion No. 2019-EC-001. A local lobbying firm wants to hold a 20th anniversary event and invite public officials. In turn, the firm requested more information regarding the exception permitting anything […]

The Arkansas Ethics Commission clarified a gift exception in Advisory Opinion No. 2019-EC-001.

A local lobbying firm wants to hold a 20th anniversary event and invite public officials. In turn, the firm requested more information regarding the exception permitting anything to be given to public officials if it is also readily available to the general public.

The commission stated the exception does not apply to an event where invitations are issued to friends, family members, clients, former clients, and business associates only.

In order for an event to be readily available to the general public, the general public would have to be made aware of the event’s existence.

For the event to qualify for the gift exception, an entity could make an announcement of the event on widely-used social media platforms and through traditional media, such as a state-wide newspaper, to make sure the general public knows the event is not limited to invitees.

Additionally, holding an event at a venue open to the public, like a park or convention center, would help meet the gift exception.

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February 5, 2019 •

Several Ethics Bills Introduced in Arkansas

Arkansas State Senators introduced several ethics bills on February 4, 2019. If passed, Senate Bill 260 prohibits direct contributions between PACs and Senate Bill 259 prevents a person elected or appointed to a constitutional office from forming more than one […]

Arkansas State Senators introduced several ethics bills on February 4, 2019.

If passed, Senate Bill 260 prohibits direct contributions between PACs and Senate Bill 259 prevents a person elected or appointed to a constitutional office from forming more than one PAC.

Senate Bill 256 prohibits an elected state official from registering as a lobbyist in any jurisdiction while serving as an elected state official.

Senate Bill 249 increases the fines for violating ethics laws the Arkansas Ethics Commission may levy at violators from $2,000 to $3,500.

Additionally, the State Representatives introduced House Bill 1374.

House Bill 1374 prohibits a former Legislator from registering as a lobbyist or entering into employment as the director of an educational cooperative or area agency on aging for two years after the expiration of his or her term of office.

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June 25, 2018 •

Special Election Called for Arkansas House District 45

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has schedule a special election for November 6, to fill the state House District 45 seat vacated by Jeremy Gillam. There will be no special primary and political parties must choose their nominees by party convention. Gillam […]

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has schedule a special election for November 6, to fill the state House District 45 seat vacated by Jeremy Gillam.

There will be no special primary and political parties must choose their nominees by party convention.

Gillam resigned in order to become the director of governmental relations and external affairs at the University of Central Arkansas.

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March 15, 2018 •

Arkansas Special Session Ends with Announcement from Governor

The second extraordinary session of the 91st Arkansas General Assembly adjourned sine die on March 15, 2018. Several bills passed both houses including a bill addressing pharmacy benefit managers’ low reimbursement rates, also known as House Bill 1010. Gov. Asa […]

The second extraordinary session of the 91st Arkansas General Assembly adjourned sine die on March 15, 2018.

Several bills passed both houses including a bill addressing pharmacy benefit managers’ low reimbursement rates, also known as House Bill 1010.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed House Bill 1010 into law at an afternoon press conference.

At the press conference, Hutchinson announced plans to reduce cabinet-level agencies in state government by 50 percent.

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