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Catnip for Arrogant Politicians

Alan Clark, Arkansas, term limits,

Arkansas Sen. Alan Clark pretends that his bill, Senate Joint Resolution 15, would toughen the term limits that apply to him.

Clark’s masterpiece, which sailed through the Senate 27–3 on Tuesday, most certainly does not. While it purports to toughen term limits from 16 years to 12 years, read the fine print.*

First, these legislators are grandfathering themselves in at 16 years. 

Second, Clark’s amendment removes the current lifetime limit, allowing politicians to return to office after just four years out.

For another 12 years.

And then perhaps an additional dozen years.**

What is going on here, you ask?

Well, in 2014, Arkansas legislators had tricked voters, referring a dishonestly worded measure onto the ballot. It claimed to establish term limits and ban gifts from lobbyists to legislators. The amendment accomplished neither; lobbyists continue to ply legislators with food and drink while existing term limits were weakened.

Last year, a citizens group turned in 135,000 voter signatures to place the strict limits citizens had originally enacted (1992) onto the ballot. But a lobbyist lawsuit with technical signature challenges won a 4-3 state supreme court decision blocking the initiative. 

Nonetheless, it was too late to remove the measure from the ballot. Votes were cast, just not counted. Fortunately, the Arkansas Times’ Max Brantley released vote totals in three large counties showing that the citizen-sponsored term limits had won big.

Which scared Arkansas’ prima-donna careerists, Clark especially, to create the current exercise in representing themselves, not the citizens of Arkansas.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.


* Clark’s constitutional amendment originally contained a provision taking term limits for state legislators out of voters’ hands by banning use of the initiative process to propose changes. Thereafter, only legislators could address the length of their own careers. That bit of self-interested boss-rule was jettisoned, apparently, as too obviously and arrogantly anti-voter.

** Those additional years — which, depending upon longevity, could extend past three decades — come with additional pension benefits, too.

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Alan Clark, Arkansas, term limits,

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By: Redactor

3 Comments

  1. States playing offense. I do not remember who spoke to the justification for I&R at the 2010 World Forum on Direct Democracy in San Francisco using the relationship of a marriage containing compromise.should be similar with governments and its residents.

    However, compromise with government and its people is non-existent.

    I&R is the only means of creating that compromise, as I lead Alabama’s effort for I&R, LetBamaVote without a floor vote as I can research and recall..

    Always enjoy your columns, Mr. Jacob.

  2. Werner says:

    Paul, haven’t you ever wondered about the glaring contradiction between voters overwhelmingly supporting term limits yet consistently return their own reps to office? That’s telling me people like THEIR own guy but want the OTHER guy’s rep out of office. TLs are a weapon to reach into some other constituency to knock THAT guy out of office. 

    • Paul Jacob says:

      Werner,

      Sure have, because this issue comes up a lot. First, voters could love their rep and still favor term limits as a way to better and more regularly open up the system and also as a way to prevent corruption, which has a tendency to be more problematic the longer a politician stays in office.

      Term limits are not merely an attempt to dump the present bunch, but to create a better overall system.

      Second, that reelection rate is deceptive, created largely by all the advantages incumbents enjoy, which has the effect of discouraging many of the best potential challengers out of running. When polling is done asking voters if they would prefer their own rep or “someone new,” the results are often for someone new. But when an election happens, that “someone new” is often a member of the other party and thereby stands almost no chance.

      Voters are not confused. They like the concept of term limits very much. If it means a pol they like has to step down, it doesn’t change their strong support for term limits.

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