LITTLE ROCK — A group that tried unsuccessfully last year to qualify an ethics initiative for the ballot had its proposal certified by the attorney general’s office Wednesday.
Regnat Populus can begin gathering signatures for next year. It needs 62,507 valid signatures of registered voters to place the proposal on the 2014 general election ballot. The deadline is July 7, 2014.
Last summer, the group proposed an initiated act that would ban the giving of gifts to legislators. The measure also would have prohibited corporations and labor unions from making political contributions and established a two-year "cooling-off" period between when a lawmaker leaves office and is permitted to start lobbying. The group failed to gather enough signatures to place the measure on the 2012 ballot.
Regnat Populus later submitted another, similar proposal to the attorney general, who is responsible for certifying that a proposed initiative’s popular name and ballot title are clear and unambiguous.
In the fall, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel rejected the popular name and ballot title, saying it was unclear who would fall under an exception to the measure’s proposed ban on gifts to legislators and constitutional officers.
The attorney general said the measure was unclear in making exceptions to the gift-giving ban for the "spouse, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, brother, sister, etc." of lawmakers and constitutional officers.
David Couch, attorney for Regnat Populus, said Wednesday that the revised proposal certified by McDaniel not only bans gifts to legislators but also to constitutional officers. It also makes violating the law a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
Under the proposal, corporations, proprietorships, firms, partnerships, joint venture syndicates, labor unions, business trusts, companies and associations would be prohibited from making campaign contributions to candidates for public office.
Political parties, county political party committees, legislative caucus committees and authorized political action committees would be allowed to make the contributions.