AG Opinion: Arkansas Legislature Controls Its Own Ethics Rulemaking

House Health CommitteeWe have written before about Issue 3, which voters passed last November. Among other things, Issue 3 extended term limits for Arkansas’ legislators and put new ethics guidelines in the Arkansas Constitution.

One ballot proposal that did not garner very much attention, however, was Issue 1, which voters also passed last November.

Issue 1 made rules and regulations promulgated by state agencies subject to legislative review and approval.

On the surface, Issue 1 and Issue 3 seem to have very little to do with each other. One prescribes new ethics laws and extends term limits for legislators; the other increases accountability between the Arkansas Legislature and the state agencies operating under the Executive Branch of government.

Before leaving office this week, however, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued an opinion that connected Issue 1 and Issue 3: Together, Issue 1 and Issue 3 give the Arkansas Legislature a lot of authority over the ethics guidelines Issue 3 put in the Arkansas Constitution.

In a Nutshell

In a nutshell, here is what has happened:

  1. Besides extending term limits, Issue 3 outlined ethics guidelines for things like gifts to lawmakers from lobbyists.
  2. Issue 3 directed the Arkansas Ethics Commission to make rules implementing those ethics guidelines.
  3. Issue 1 gave the Arkansas Legislature authority over rules and regulations implemented by state agencies like the Arkansas Ethics Commission.
  4. This means the legislature controls the new ethics rules put out by the Arkansas Ethics Commission under Issue 3.
  5. Issue 3 also gives the Arkansas Legislature the power to change the ethics guidelines in the Arkansas Constitution with a 2/3 vote of the Arkansas House and Senate; no approval from voters is required.

In other words, Issue 3 directs the Arkansas Ethics Commission to implement new ethics guidelines, but Issue 1 gives the Arkansas Legislature authority over anything the Ethics Commission tries to implement.


First Pro-Life Legislation of the Session Filed

Senator Missy Irvin and Representative Julie Mayberry have filed the first pro-life bills of the 2015 legislative session in Little Rock.

Senate Bill 53 and House Bill 1076 would require doctors performing a chemical abortion (using drugs such as RU-486) to be present during the procedure and make arrangements for a follow-up visit in the days after administering the drug.

Evidence from around the country suggests abortion-inducing drugs are increasingly being distributed without proper oversight from a doctor. This poses a serious threat to women’s health.

Abortion advocates often say abortion ought to be safe, legal, and rare. SB53 and HB1076 would help abortionists abide by that mantra and would curtail the proliferation of abortion-inducing drugs.

Fayetteville Looking to Meddle With Local Petition Process

According to the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Fayetteville City Attorney has proposed a change to the city’s code governing local option petitions.

The proposal comes on the heels of a vote last month that repealed the city’s contentious “nondiscrimination” ordinance. Local residents were able to repeal the ordinance because state law and Fayetteville City Code allow voters to circulate petitions calling for a special election to keep or repeal any ordinance passed by the city council.

But now the attorney for the City of Fayetteville is proposing a change to the way that local petition process works.