LITTLE ROCK — The legislative Joint Committee on Constitutional Amendments endorsed two proposed constitutional amendments Wednesday, one affecting the process of placing an initiative on the ballot and one providing for legislative review of rules promulgated by state agencies.
The committee gave a "do pass" recommendation to Senate Joint Resolution 16 by Sen. Bill Sample, R-Hot Springs. If referred to the November 2014 general election ballot and approved by voters, the measure would amend the state constitution to raise the threshold that must be met before a group collecting signatures in support of a ballot initiative can qualify for a "cure" period to correct deficiencies.
Under the proposal, a group would have to submit a number of valid signatures equal to 90 percent of the total number of signatures required in order to qualify for the cure period.
The proposed amendment is a response to a situation that arose last summer, when state election officials were able to verify 30 percent or less of the signatures on petitions submitted in support of two ballot initiatives.
The committee also endorsed SJR 7 by Sen. Jonathan Dismang, R-Searcy, which would amend the constitution to allow the Legislature to require by law that state agencies submit all proposed rules to legislative review before they take effect and would not allow the rules to take effect until legislators have reviewed and approved them.
Previously, the committee endorsed House Joint Resolution 1009 by Rep. Warwick Sabin, D-Little Rock.The proposal would amend the constitution to ban corporate an union gifts to political campaigns; allow legislators to serve up to 16 years; increase the minimum period between when a legislator leaves office and is allowed to become a lobbyist from one year to two years; ban most gifts to public officials; and create a citizens’ commission to set the salaries of legislators, constitutional officers and judges.
All three resolutions must be approved by the full House and Senate to be referred to voters.
The Legislature can refer three proposed constitutional amendments to voters during each regular session, or four if one changes salaries, but no such proposal was filed this year.