November 5, 2014 •

Arkansas Passes Ethics Constitutional Amendment

Voters passed a constitutional amendment on the November 4 ballot to extend term limits for state lawmakers in exchange for strict ethics laws for lobbyists and corporations. The Arkansas Elected Officials Ethics, Transparency, and Financial Reform Amendment of 2014 bans […]

Flag of ArkansasVoters passed a constitutional amendment on the November 4 ballot to extend term limits for state lawmakers in exchange for strict ethics laws for lobbyists and corporations.

The Arkansas Elected Officials Ethics, Transparency, and Financial Reform Amendment of 2014 bans corporate and union contributions to political campaigns, prohibits gifts from lobbyists to legislative and executive officials, and extends term limits for legislators to at least 16 years.

The new provision allows lawmakers to serve 16 years in the same office, or even longer for senators winning special two-year terms after each decennial census and redistricting process.

The amendment is effective today, November 5, 2014.

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October 13, 2014 •

Arkansas Ethics Ballot Measure Offers Tradeoff

A proposed constitutional amendment on the November 4, 2014, ballot will determine whether voters are willing to extend term limits for state lawmakers in exchange for strict ethics laws for lobbyists and corporations. Issue 3 will ban corporate and union […]

Flag of ArkansasA proposed constitutional amendment on the November 4, 2014, ballot will determine whether voters are willing to extend term limits for state lawmakers in exchange for strict ethics laws for lobbyists and corporations. Issue 3 will ban corporate and union gifts to political campaigns, ban lobbyist gifts to legislative and executive officials, and extend term limits for legislators to at least 16 years.

Under the current state constitution, lawmakers typically serve no more than six years in the House and eight years in the Senate. The ballot measure would allow lawmakers to serve 16 years in the same office, or even longer for senators winning special two-year terms after each decennial census and redistricting process.

Adding term limits to the bill helped the ethics package pass the Legislature, but has decreased the popularity of the ballot measure in pre-election polls.

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August 1, 2014 •

Arkansas State Senator Leaves Early for Government Relations Job

State Sen. Johnny Key has vacated his seat in order to coordinate lobbying efforts for the University of Arkansas system as the associate vice president for university relations. Gov. Mike Beebe will not call a special election to fill the […]

Sen. Johnny KeyState Sen. Johnny Key has vacated his seat in order to coordinate lobbying efforts for the University of Arkansas system as the associate vice president for university relations.

Gov. Mike Beebe will not call a special election to fill the empty seat due to the expected costs and logistical hurdles of replacing Key, whose term ends in January 2015.

Scott Flippo won the Republican nomination for the District 17 seat in June and will not have a Democrat challenger in the November election.

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June 25, 2014 •

Arkansas Governor to Call Special Session

Gov. Mike Beebe has indicated a special session will be called to address overcrowding in jails and teacher insurance. The House and Senate will consider a bill to add 600 beds to the Department of Corrections facilities and the Pulaski […]

Arkansas State CapitolGov. Mike Beebe has indicated a special session will be called to address overcrowding in jails and teacher insurance. The House and Senate will consider a bill to add 600 beds to the Department of Corrections facilities and the Pulaski County Jail.

Lawmakers will also consider a plan to reduce insurance costs for public school employees by eliminating part-time employees and spouses who have other options for health coverage.

The session will begin on June 30 and last until July 2, 2014.

Photo of the Arkansas State Capitol by jglazer75 on Wikimedia Commons.
 
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May 27, 2014 •

Arkansas Ethics Commission Issues Opinion on Electronic Contributions

The Ethics Commission has issued an opinion for organizations accepting campaign contributions electronically. Advisory Opinion 2014-EC-002 permits organizations to accept electronic donations without requiring the donor to submit personal information if the information is already recorded. The commission issued the […]

Flag of ArkansasThe Ethics Commission has issued an opinion for organizations accepting campaign contributions electronically. Advisory Opinion 2014-EC-002 permits organizations to accept electronic donations without requiring the donor to submit personal information if the information is already recorded.

The commission issued the opinion at the request of ActBlue, a political action committee for Democratic candidates across the country. The ActBlue website requires personal information of the donor to be submitted, but not resubmitted for subsequent contributions.

The committee asked if this practice complied with a statutory requirement for electronic records to include the donor’s name, address, place of business, employer, and occupation “at the time of making the contribution.” The commission concluded even if some of the required donor information was provided prior to a contribution, the record would comply with the statute.

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March 21, 2014 •

Arkansas Fiscal Session Adjourns

The Legislature adjourned the fiscal session sine die on March 19, 2014. Legislators successfully passed the $4.7 billion budget and overrode Gov. Mike Beebe’s line-item veto of a tax break for oil and gas drillers.  

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The Legislature adjourned the fiscal session sine die on March 19, 2014.

Legislators successfully passed the $4.7 billion budget and overrode Gov. Mike Beebe’s line-item veto of a tax break for oil and gas drillers.

 

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March 5, 2014 •

Arkansas Governor Signs Bill to Forgo Lieutenant Governor Special Election

Gov. Mike Beebe has signed a bill allowing him not to call a special election to fill the lieutenant governor’s office. Senate Bill 139, now Act 210, allows the governor to forgo a special election to fill a vacancy in […]

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Gov. Mike Beebe has signed a bill allowing him not to call a special election to fill the lieutenant governor’s office.

Senate Bill 139, now Act 210, allows the governor to forgo a special election to fill a vacancy in the lieutenant governor’s office when the vacancy occurs within 10 months of a general election, if holding a special election would be impractical or burdensome.

Mark Darr left the lieutenant governor’s office vacant after being fined $11,000 by the state Ethics Commission for misuse of campaign contributions and taxpayer dollars.

 

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February 28, 2014 •

Arkansas Lawmakers Delay Special Election for Lieutenant Governor

Lawmakers have passed a measure to keep the lieutenant governor’s office vacant until the November general election. Senate Bill 139 allows Gov. Mike Beebe to postpone a special election for the vacancy left by former Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, who […]

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Lawmakers have passed a measure to keep the lieutenant governor’s office vacant until the November general election.

Senate Bill 139 allows Gov. Mike Beebe to postpone a special election for the vacancy left by former Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, who left office following $11,000 in fines for ethics violations.

The bill awaits Beebe’s signature.

 

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February 19, 2014 •

Arkansas Special Election Bill Cleared for Introduction

Lawmakers agreed by resolution to consider a bill aimed at avoiding a special election for the lieutenant governor’s office, which was vacated by former Lt. Gov. Mark Darr following ethics violations. Senate Bill 139 would enable Gov. Mike Beebe to […]

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Lawmakers agreed by resolution to consider a bill aimed at avoiding a special election for the lieutenant governor’s office, which was vacated by former Lt. Gov. Mark Darr following ethics violations. Senate Bill 139 would enable Gov. Mike Beebe to call a special election “as soon as practicable” if calling a special election within 150 days of the vacancy would be impracticable or burdensome.

The bill was introduced in an effort to avoid the cost of a special election until the general election on November 4, 2014. The resolutions required a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate because they occurred during the fiscal session.

 

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February 4, 2014 •

Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Officially Resigns

Lt. Gov. Mark Darr has made his resignation official three weeks after saying he would step down over ethics violations concerning his campaign and office spending. Legislative leaders are pushing to change state election law in order to keep Darr’s […]

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Lt. Gov. Mark Darr has made his resignation official three weeks after saying he would step down over ethics violations concerning his campaign and office spending.

Legislative leaders are pushing to change state election law in order to keep Darr’s office vacant for the rest of the year rather than hold a special election.

Currently, state law requires the governor to call a special election within 150 days of declaring Darr’s office vacant, but lawmakers from both parties would prefer to keep the office unfilled since the general election will be held November 4, 2014.

 

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October 16, 2013 •

Arkansas Governor Calls Special Session

Session will begin October 17 at 3:00 p.m.

Arkansas State CapitolGov. Mike Beebe issued a call to bring the General Assembly into special session to address the health insurance rate increase facing the Public School Employee Plan. The special session will begin Thursday, October 17, and is expected to conclude by the end of the day on Saturday, October 19, 2013.

Beebe is confident bipartisan efforts will pass bills designed to stabilize retirement plans for teachers and public school employees.

Photo of the Arkansas State Capitol courtesy of jglazer75 in Wikimedia Commons.

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October 10, 2013 •

Arkansas Potential Special Session May Include Ethics

Lawmaker proposes campaign finance changes

Arkansas State CapitolRep. Warwick Sabin has suggested nearly a dozen changes to the state’s ethics and campaign finance laws potentially to be considered during a special session the governor may call to address teacher insurance costs. Sabin proposed the bills in an email to House and Senate members on Wednesday, October 10.

The changes would empower the Ethics Commission to initiate investigations, lower the minimum reporting amount for campaign expenditures from $100 to $50, and require the secretary of state to develop a searchable website for campaign finance records. The bills could only be considered in a special session if Gov. Mike Beebe included them in a proclamation.

Photo of the Arkansas State Capitol courtesy of jglazer75 in Wikimedia Commons.

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May 17, 2013 •

Arkansas Adjourns Sine Die

No challenge to veto of election bills

ArkansasThe Legislature adjourned sine die on May 17, 2013, without an attempt to override Governor Mike Beebe’s vetoes on three election bills.

Senate Bill 719 would have transferred power of election oversight to the Secretary of State from the Board of Election Commissioners. Senate Bill 720 would have created mandatory referrals of ethics complaints from the board to the Ethics Commission when the compliant was without basis in law or fact. Senate Bill 721 would have removed all of the board’s current commissioners and established a new appointment process.

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April 24, 2013 •

Arkansas Ethics Amendment to be Decided by the Voters

Bill would ban corporate contributions and lobbyist gifts

Flag of ArkansasGovernor Mike Beebe has approved a proposed constitutional amendment to be placed on the November 4, 2014 general election ballot. House Joint Resolution 1009, the Arkansas Elected Officials Ethics, Transparency, and Financial Reform Amendment of 2014, passed both chambers shortly before the regular session recessed on April 24, 2013.

If affirmed by the voters, the constitutional amendment will ban corporate and union gifts to political campaigns, ban lobbyist gifts to legislative and executive officials, and provide 16 year term limits for legislators. The amendment would also increase the time between when a legislator leaves office and when a legislator is permitted to become a lobbyist from one year to two years.

The General Assembly is scheduled to reconvene on May 17, 2013 for a veto session before adjourning sine die.

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