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House of Representatives Weekly Report August 13, 2013

BY NATE BELL –

The 89th General Assembly referred three constitutional amendments to voters.  I support two of them and am generally neutral on the other.

If approved by the people, HJR1009 would ban gifts from lobbyists to elected officials and prohibit corporate campaign contributions to candidates for elected office.  It would alter the current term limits to allow legislators to serve a total of 16 years in the legislature.  Currently members are allowed to serve 16 years if elected to both the House and Senate.  HJR1009 would alter the current law to 16 years overall regardless of chamber. The amendment also prohibits the legislature from setting its own salaries and those of most other elected officials. Salaries would be determined by an independent salary commission if the amendment is approved. Current law prohibits legislators from lobbying the legislature for one year after they leave office. The amendment extends this prohibition to two years from the date they leave office. I am a sponsor of and support this amendment as it eliminates many of the ethical loopholes that can lead to corruption of the lawmaking process.

SJR16 requires that at least 75 percent of signatures submitted by initiative campaigns to be verified before additional time is given to circulate petitions. There have been multiple instances where paid canvassers deliberately abused a loophole in the current process and this proposal would close that loophole. I am neutral on this amendment as I support its intention but have some concerns that it could be misused to add unintended restrictions to the initiative process.

I strongly support SJR7 which would allow the legislature to approve rules and regulations proposed by state agencies before they are implemented.  Currently, we review the bureaucratic rules but have no authority to block those we believe are draconian or just too costly for citizens to reasonably comply with. The Mercatus Center at George Washington University reports that Arkansas is one of the top 5 most regulated states in the US and approving this amendment will greatly help in the effort to make Arkansas more business and job friendly.

I’d be happy to discuss the referred amendments with any constituent if you have questions about the details they contain. You can see the full text of each of them by searching by bill number at this link: http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/assembly/2013/2013R/Pages/Home.aspx

I work hard to be responsive and available to constituents. The best way to contact me is via e-mail or text message. Please send e-mail to nate.bell@arkansashouse.org or call/text at 479-234-2092.  If you don’t receive a response within 24 hours, please try again as your message may not have been received.