The populus did not regnat on term limits | Arkansas Blog

Friday, November 9, 2018

The populus did not regnat on term limits

Posted By on Fri, Nov 9, 2018 at 11:11 AM

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More evidence here of why state legislators and their owners at the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce were so desperate to knock Issue 3, the term limits amendment, off the ballot. It had deep support, witness a 64,000-vote margin in Pulaski County.

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The chamber successfully sued to knock Issue 3 off the ballot, using the hypertechnical requirements of a law passed by the legislature to make it very difficult to use paid canvassers to circulate voter petitions. The term limits people started with a volunteer effort, but used paid canvassers to finish. Registration of paid canvassers ran afoul of picky details in the law causing disqualification.

It was a great relief to legislators who now can serve 16 years in a single house of the legislature, accruing vast power in the process. With lucky draws on reapportionment, senators can serve up to 22 years. Cecile Bledsoe is headed to 20. Jason Rapert could get 22. With fattened pay, untaxed and generous per diem payments, solid gold affordable health insurance, retirement benefits, occasional free junkets and plenty of free lobbyist feeds it's such a good life that some people make it their only work. It is not the citizen legislature the founders envisioned, with a 60-day session every two years. Some of them live almost permanently in the (cut-rate) Capitol Hill apartments.

The Chamber likes not having to learn a new scorecard and cultivates favorites through PAC support on which most legislators rely for re-election cash. It didn't want to switch to a system limited to six years in the House and eight in the Senate, or 10 altogether. Experience counts. Just ask Jon Woods, whose accumulating experience led to ever bigger scandals and finally an 18-year prison sentence.

The people? They seem to have different thoughts. Though the measure was removed from the ballot and Secretary of State Mark Martin was ordered not to canvass votes, the measure remained on most counties' ballots and were automatically counted. Signs were posted noting that the votes wouldn't count, so you can't say the votes are necessarily proof of anything. But ....

Three-to-one seems to be a pretty standard margin in votes I've seen around the state. Here's the vote from another major population center, Washington County:


In Pope County, the ayes had it 13,514 to 3,529.

I think the term limits crowd should try again. if the state motto is to be Regnat Populus rather than Regnat Lobbyist.

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