A basket full of deplorable constitutional amendments filed today | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A basket full of deplorable constitutional amendments filed today

Posted By on Wed, Feb 13, 2019 at 6:43 PM

The deadline for filing proposed constitutional amendments brought a batch of new ones today, with little to recommend (other than the one mentioned earlier, 135 years late, to end slavery in Arkansas):

Other new arrivals:

* INSANITY: A House mirror image from Rep. Jim Sorvillo to Sen. Trent Garner's terrible idea to have regular legislative sessions annually. More money for unemployed legislators and lots more mischief.

*TERM LIMITS: Rep. Jim Dotson has a term limits shell amendment. There's been some talking of ameliorating the trick bag thrown over voters in 2014 by the legislators EXTENDING their terms while contending they were limiting them. They get 16 years now, as many as 22 for some senators. Some term limits. Term limits advocates will be back with a more limiting initiative and legislators want to be ready to have an antidote to hang onto their fat jobs. Sen. Alan Clark has TWO term limits amendment. One is shell. The other would extend term limits to judges and reduce term limits to 12 years but only those taking office in 2021 and after. Not me, but thee, in other words. Rapert and Bledsoe, etc., could still get 20 or more years. Check it out. It would also strip the ability of the people to refer term limits proposals to voters. These guys LIKE being bigshots under the dome. Rep. DeAnn Vaught has one, too, seemingly to put a real 16-year limit on current service, depriving a few senators of some extra gravy.

* TORT DEFORM: Sen. Gary Stubblefield proposes to let the legislature limit punitive damage awards in damage suits. Rep. Sarah Capp proposed the same. Sen. Bart Hester is already on board for the Chamber of Commerce to screw injured people out of both meaningful pain and suffering awards AND punitive damages, which discourage rogue corporations.

* UNBALANCING POWERS: Rep. Mary Bentley of Perry County has a proposal, in shell form, to do something about residency requirements for circuit judges. Coming from her, watch out.

* UNDEMOCRATIC: Rep. Jon Eubanks added proposals to ones submitted earlier by Sen. Keith Ingram on behalf of corporates interests to make it harder to circulate petitions to put initiatives and amendments on the ballot. Rep. Jeff Wardlaw has one of these, too. Sen. Matt Pitsch has one on this corporate fatcat bandwagon, too. Think the Chamber made it clear they want more control over the people?

* THROW THE BUMS OUT: Rep. Grant Hodges wants to allow 40 percent of electors to petition for an election to remove somebody from public office and to do so with an ensuing majority vote. This one could cut both ways, Mr. Hodges. It covers state officials, but not judges.

*TIMBER!!! Rep. Andy Davis wants a constitutional amendment to "TO PHASE IN THE PROPERTY TAX INCREASE ON A PROPERTY AFTER IT IS REDEVELOPED." Shell form. Let me guess. Davis represents Chenal Valley, where before land is developed it's carried on the books for pennies as agricultural land, though it's being held for development with fancy houses. Might Davis want to ease the pain of actually assessing that land at its real value too soon. Texas has a clawback provision in its tough property tax law (how do you think they avoid an income tax, besides rich oil and gas extraction taxes?) for some land. Sounds like Davis is proposing the opposite.

* SNAKE EYES: The expanded casino amendment hasn't even taken effect yet and Sen. Mark Johnson already wants to amend it. How? We don't know yet. Bet it isn't good.

* KING'S X: Rep. Jeff Wardlaw has a shell proposal on sovereign immunity, an issue the Supreme Court has royally screwed up.

* MORE SHELL GAMES: Wardlaw has one on highway funding.  Sen. Will Bond has one on term limits. Rep. Aaron Pilkington has one about "nomination and election of political party candidates."

* ROUGH PAVEMENT AHEAD: Rep. Dotson wants to fiddle with the Highway Commission, perhaps in a way that makes it operate in a manner required by law. That is by the legislature. End of independence?

I may have missed some. But it's a dispiriting list. And it gives you, in short, a pretty good thematic view of the Arkansas legislature.

1) Hold onto power

2) Comfort the rich


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