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Legislation Introduced to Create Lifetime Politicians in Arkansas

UPDATE: The sponsor of this proposed constitutional amendment added an amendment this week (3/19) to change the ballot title to no longer say “reducing term limits” and removed the section that would have prohibited the people from addressing term limits in the future. The bill would still allow for an increased amount of time for legislators to serve in Little Rock with 4 year cooling off periods in between 12 years of serving.

A proposed constitutional amendment would change term limits for legislators. SJ515 by State Sen. Alan Clark would provide for lifetime service with short cooling off periods, and permanently ban the people of Arkansas from setting term limits for their legislators. Only the legislature would be able to set term limits moving forward.

The bill would allow any legislator to serve 12 years in the state legislature, before a cooling off period. A legislator would then have to sit out for 4 years but could then return to the legislature. They could do this for an unlimited number of 12 year periods, as long as there is a 4 year cooling off period in between each term.

Currently after the legislature increased term limits a few years with a misleading ballot title, the legislators can serve a total of 16 years.

This ballot title itself is misleading in that it says it is “reducing term limits” for the general assembly. While it would decrease the amount of consecutive time served, from 16 years to 12 years, it would drastically open up the amount of time a legislature can serve in Little Rock to an unlimited amount. The bill would allow current legislators who would cap out at 16 years to return immediately after sitting out for four years. That is just one term for State Senators. The bill would also adjust judicial term limits and set them at twelve years, with four year cooling off periods in between.

Finally, the bill would forever ban the people of Arkansas from decreasing or changing in any way term limits of their elected officials. Instead, the legislators themselves would be the only ones who could adjust term limits.

This is a government growth measure that would ensure further entrenchment of state legislators into the system of big government controlled by special interests. The longer a legislator is in Little Rock the closer they get to special interests and lobbyists and further removed from the people of their district. We should not increase the time a person can be a legislator and should not prohibit the people from changing term limits on their elected officials.

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