The Arkansas legislature may propose three constitutional amendments every two years (or a fourth if it pertains to their salaries).
The deadline for filing proposals passed this week and produced 43 proposals.
Here are the 25 proposed in House Joint Resolutions. My particular favorite of the bad ones: A final solution for judicial elections from Rep. Robin Lundstrum.
Judges are now elected on a non-partisan basis. This is a result of a drive begun by the then-minority Republican Party because the Democratic Party fattened its coffers with judicial filing fees. Democrats came around to the idea that it presented a bad look for judges to run as party candidates.
But that was then.
Republicans now control the executive and legislative branches. They are making inroads in the judiciary through candidates such as Supreme Court Justices Rhonda Wood, Barbara Webb and Shawn Womack running as identifiable Republicans. But the GOP is greedy. The success elsewhere on the ballot shows that an “R” after a candidate’s name is tantamount to election in most cases. So why not finish the job in the judiciary — hypocrisy and impartiality be damned. This shouldn’t stand a chance, but who knows. Ill appearances don’t bother Republicans. Webb, the wife of the former Republican Party chair, Doyle Webb, says she will hot recuse from cases involving the Republican attorney general and gubernatorial candidate, Leslie Rutledge, who just hired her husband for $150,000 a year.
Other House ideas would allow the legislature to call itself into special session; provide more money for libraries; eliminate the personal property tax; make it harder to pass ballot initiatives; put the legislature in charge of the highway department, and further protect gun and religious freedoms. Guns and freedom are well-protected in the Constitution. These measures are really about preventing gun safety laws and allowing people to use religion as a pretext to discriminate, particularly against LGBTQ people.
Multiple proposals cover the business lobby’s long-desired wish for a limit on damage lawsuits and to limit the power of the judiciary on rule-making.
Here are the 18 proposed joint resolutions in the Senate. Some duplicate measures in the House. They include, of course, more limits on lawsuits and court powers; an amendment to allow the state to be sued; a terrible idea to strip the Constitution of its requirement of an equal and adequate education; a good-government proposal to improve the election process; another good idea to require habitability of rental residences (it will be marked for a quick death by the real estate lobby). Sen. Alan Clark wins the booby prize: Enshrining in the Constitution the rule that even intramural sports teams in public schools must be “designated based on biological sex.”
Guns, religion and “tort reform” seem most popular. Help for the common man and woman? Get your magnifying glass.
The proposals will be winnowed down at the end of the session.