Wednesday, February 13, 2013

UPDATE: Ethics bill will combine with legislative pay, term limits expansion

Posted By on Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 12:27 PM

SIGNING UP: GOP Sen. Jon Woods signs ethics petition. Hes on board also with related measures to increase his pay and allow him to serve longer.
  • SIGNING UP: GOP Sen. Jon Woods signs ethics petition. He's on board also with related measures to increase his pay and allow him to serve longer.
Regnat Populus, the organization pushing a ballot initiative for stronger ethics laws in Arkansas, says a "comprehensive" ethics reform bill is expected to be filed today. The group will still be at the Capitol canvassing lawmakers for signatures on the initiated act to prohibit lobbyist freebies for legislators; impose a two-year waiting period (the Gilbert Baker rule) on moving to the lobby, and to prohibit direct corporate contributions to individual campaigns (but not to or from PACs).

Paul Spencer, head of the committee, says a filed bill is not a passed bill. Canvassing will proceed. Call the roll on signatories.

UPDATE: The legislative effort is going to be a constitutional amendment. It was filed in shell form today by Rep. Warwick Sabin.

He promises more information later, but says there's emerging bipartisan legislative consensus in support of the Regnat Populus measure, in combination with changes in the existing term limits law and putting legislative pay in the hands of a citizens commission. The last would provide a way to pay increases on which the legislature itself didn't have to vote.

Republicans such as Sen. Jon Woods, also a sponsor of the amendment, are, in other words, supportive of better ethics if they can have higher pay and stay in office longer. The pay commission will come in separate legislation Woods plans. Term limits light would give this bunch 16 years or so total, where the limit is now six years in the House and eight in the Senate (with vagaries of reapportionment allowing some senators a few more years depending on the luck of the draw). A having-it-both-ways kind of measure. Stick around long enough to accrue all the power and all the perks, from pay and retirement to solid gold health insurance, while still claiming you support term limits.

As a matter of principle, I've always opposed term limits and supported higher pay for public service. As a matter of politics ....

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