BY STATE REPRESENTATIVE NATE BELL –
One of my jobs as Chairman of the House Committee on State Agencies is to preside over the process of narrowing the number of proposed Constitutional Amendments which receive legislative approval to be placed on the November 2016 ballot.
House members filed 27 proposed constitutional amendments this session. Five of them will be presented to the Joint Committee of State Agencies where 16 proposals from the Senate will also be considered. While all 27 House resolutions can continue to be considered by the Joint Committee, those five have received enough committee support to merit more focused consideration. The constitution allows for only 3 amendments to be referred by the General Assembly, so members will face important decisions regarding the amendments over the next few days.
One of the amendments advanced by the House committee this week would change the definition of “infamous crime” when it comes to our elected officials. HJR1006 would prohibit anyone from being elected if they are convicted of a felony, have been charged with abuse of office, tampering, or convicted of a misdemeanor where it was found that the individual committed an act of deceit or fraud.
I filed HJR1012 which addresses uncontested elections. If passed, this amendment would allow the legislature to enact laws that allow more efficient procedures for uncontested elections.
Another amendment now before the Joint Committee addresses Voter ID. HJR1007 requires an individual to produce government issued photo identification before receiving a ballot.
The election of county officials is addressed in HJR1027. Under this amendment, county judges, sheriffs, circuit clerks, county clerks, assessors, coroners, treasurers, surveyor, and tax collectors would be elected to 4 year terms instead of the current 2 year terms.
And the final viable proposal from the House addresses the election of our Supreme Court Justices. HJR1005 would provide for the formation of a 15-member Judicial Nominating Committee. The Governor and the Arkansas Bar Association would choose six members each, two would be chosen by the House speaker and Senate president pro tem, and those members would fill the remaining seat through a vote. The commission would choose three people for each open court position for the governor to choose from for one initial term. Retention for subsequent terms would be decided by the voters in a yes-or-no vote.
I encourage Arkansans to study each of the proposed amendments and provide me with your input. I will continue to update you on progress as we complete that portion of our work.
We have just wrapped up our 9th week of the Regular Session and are beginning to wrap up the business of the session. Over 1,000 bills have been filed by House members. Our time in committee meetings and floor sessions is increasing as we continue to hear testimony and deliberate on bills.
Remember you can watch all House committee meetings held in the Capitol and all House floor proceedings atwww.arkansashouse.org.