A funny thing happened on the way to reform.
The freshly minted Republican-dominated Arksansas State Assumbly put up three constitutional amendments for next November’s ballot. Secretly, they are likely proudest of one of them, “The Arkansas Elected Officials Ethics, Transparency, and Financial Reform Act.” For, snuck into the amendment, is a gutting of term limits.
The voters long ago enacted six-year House limits, not the 16 years proposed now by legislators. The voters limit state senators to two four-year terms, while legislators are trying to double their ride on the gravy train.
A number of legislators now claim even they didn’t know the term limits provision was in the legislation. Others explain that their “aye” vote was cast mistakenly on their behalf after they had left the building.
But all that’s nothing compared to this wrinkle, which I wrote about on Townhall this weekend. Hidden in a separate piece of legislation passed last year was a strange provision dealing with setting ballot language for measures referred by the legislature. Legislators took the power to write a ballot measure’s “Popular Name” — the so-called short title — away from the Attorney General, who previously enjoyed that statutory role, and gave it to themselves.
However, after legally stripping any other elected official of that same power, the plotters neglected to do one teensy-weensy thing: provide that language for their new term extension.
The upshot? The sneaky, dishonest anti-term limits amendment may not appear on the ballot.
Hoisted on their own petard, the whole elaborate scheme threatens to blow up in their own dear faces.
Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving bunch.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.