Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has approved a proposed term limits amendment
submitted by Brenda V. Taylor of Fayetteville
, a lawyer active in a conservative Republican group that has also been working to find opponents for incumbent Republican legislators who voted for the private option Medicaid expansion.
Arkansas voters loosened an existing term limits amendment in 2014. Where legislators had been generally limited to six years in the House and eight years in the Senate, the new amendment made the limit 16 years, altoghter. All could be served in one chamber, presenting the opportunity for accrual of great power. Senate redistricting procedures actually allow several more years for a senator beyond 16, depending on how terms fall. The two-year terms drawn every 10 years by some senators don't count against the limit.
The term limits easing also gave legislators the path to a 150 percent pay increase and, though the measure supposedly put limits on lobbyist expenditures on legislators, they've found many ways around them.
The proposal would limit legislators to three two-year terms in the House and two four-year terms in the Senate, but no more than 10 years in the General Assembly in total. It would apply to all years served after Jan. 1, 1993, but wouldn't cut short any existing term for someone over the limit.
The amendment has a little kicker. It would strip the legislature of the ability to offer amendments to change term limits. That would be reserved to the petition.
Rutledge's opinion notes that the length and complexity of a ballot title can leave it subject to court challenge.
Backers of the amendment will have to gather 84,859 signatures of registered voters to get the constitutional amendment on the 2016 ballot.
The Republicans who made term limits a part of their party platform for so many years have not had long in power to abuse the majority enough to inspire insurgents to curb them.