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Say NO to lifetime politicians, Vote NO on Issue 2 and Issue 3

The citizens group Arkansas Term Limits is NOT sponsoring an amendment for 2020. There is no citizen sponsored amendment for 2020.

The Term Limit Amendment proposal on the 2020 ballot is a fraud referred by the politicians in the Arkansas Legislature. Issue 2 will eliminate lifetime term limits for Arkansas legislators, allowing them to "serve" until they die with ocassional short breaks. The politicians in the Legislature co-opted our amendment name, apparently to trick voters into thinking it was the same citizens initiative to roll back legislative term limits.

Under the proposed amendment, legislators can serve up to 12 consecutive years followed by a four year break, and then run again. However all current legislators, and those elected in 2020, will continue to operate under existing rules, which is up to 22 years, then be covered by the new rules. That would be 22 on, 4 off, 12 on for a total of 34 years in office out of 38. Nice work if you can get it.

The actual restiction is 12 consectutive years, but if a legislator opts to take a break after 10 years, he has broken the consecutive years string and the counter starts over. So, he could serve 10 on, 2 off, 10 on, 2 off, 12 on for a total of 32 of 36 years in office. And he could keep serving like this until he dies. Term limits by politicians, for politicians. What's not to like?


They don't tell you what it does. When you get in the voting booth, the ballot title won't tell you any of this. In fact, it doesn't tell you anything except that its amending term limits for legislators. This is, of course, by design. If they were to tell you what it does, you wouldn't vote for it. They know polls consistently show that over 70% of Arkansans support stricker term limits. 100% of lobbyists and the special interests they represent love this proposal. Arkansas legislators have learned from experience that dishonesty in ballot titles works for them.

Although most legislators voted to refer this fraud to the voters, you can thank state Senator Alan Clark for dreaming up and sponsoring this attempt to once again trick the voters into gutting term limits for legislators. Throw in an honorable mention for his co-sponsors Ron Caldwell, Breanne Davis, Lance Eads, Trent Garner, Ricky Hill, Mark Johnson, Terry Rice, Bill Sample, and Gary Stubblefield, many of whom also voted to get it out of committee. The folks whose names are bold also voted to refer the 2014 amendment that gutted citizen term limits. This is the politicians idea of good term limits.

Remember, the legislators had no trouble voting for a dishonest ballot title that doesn't tell you what the amendment will do. Only three state Senators voted against it, Dismang, Hendren and Maloch. It's a repeat of 2014 when they gutted the people's term limits in the so-called ethics bill. Consider voting against incumbents.

Voters like term limits because they don't want career politicians.

Politicians hate term limits because, well, they want to be career politicians.

I thought we had term limits?

Until 2014, Arkansas had strong term limits, initiated by citizens and passed by voters in 1992 with 60% of the vote. It passed in 70 of 75 Arkansas counties. Representatives could serve three terms (6 years), Senators two terms (8 years).

In 2004, the politicians' well-funded attempt to weaken term limits and double their terms was squashed by voters with a near record 70% vote. All 75 counties said NO to the Legislature, voting to keep term limits. Arkansas voters like term limits!

What happened in 2014?

The 2004 landslide defeat taught the Legislators one important thing: voters would not knowingly weaken term limits. To succeed in weakening term limits and lengthening their political careers, the Legislators would have to trick the voters into thinking they were voting for something else, something they like, something like, say, ethics reform.

In what is widely considered a brazen fraud perpetrated on the people by the politicians, the Legislators showed the people of Arkansas just what they're made of in 2014. Knowing their ballot title would not go before the Arkansas Attorney General for review and approval, they crafted a long ballot title full of things voters like. It was all about beating up on lobbyists, preventing legislators from taking bribes gifts, preventing them from taking corporate money, preventing them from raising their own salary, that sort of thing. The last ten words of the longest ballot title ever said "and establishing term limits for members of the General Assembly."

The message of this anti-politician ballot title was simply too powerful to overcome. Reading the deceptive ballot title in the voting booth, voters thought they were voting for ethics reform for politicians. Few were aware the amendment would gut term limits. Despite a vigorous public awareness campaign by Arkansas Term Limits, Issue 3 passed in November 2014 with 52% of the vote.

Arkansas now has the weakest term limits in the nation. With term limits written by legislators for legislators, they can now stay there for up to 22 years.

When given the choice between doing the right thing, respecting the will of the people, or deceiving voters to prolong their political careers, the politicians chose their own self interest. Of the 100 Representatives and 35 Senators in the Arkansas Legislature, only 7 voted against referring Issue 3 to the voters. 7 of 135. Only 7 of these guys stood up and said no to deceit. Many of the longer-serving Legislators would not be there today were it not for this deceit. See how they voted.

For more information, see: History of Arkansas Term Limits

The lies they tell! They must have some kind of workshop up there at the state capitol to teach politicians what to say when asked about term limits because they all seem to have the same false answers. Here are the top arguments our politicians use when trying to convince voters that term limits are bad:

 1  Lobbyist love term limits.
"Lobbyist and special interests love term limits because they will be able to take advantage of all those rookies up there." In 2004, when the politicians referred a "gut term limits" amendment that would double their terms, special interests spent over $400,000 to help the politicians effort to get rid of term limits. They didn't give the term limits supporters a dime. Lobbyists hate term limits! See: Myth-Busting 101: Do Lobbyists Love Term Limits?

 2  “Lobbyists prey upon the House freshman”
Jon Woods, chief architect of the "gut term limits" amendment, since indicted for bribery, actually said that. "When they first get up there, they're easy prey for the lobbyists." Rep. Stephen Meeks (R-67) of Greenbrier, who voted to refer the amendment and deceptive ballot title to the people, reportedly said just like any other job, it takes time to learn all the “ins and outs” of state government. “When I talk to legislators at other states they tell me it takes between six and eight years to understand state government,” he said.  This one is easy: If it takes you that long to catch on, you're not smart enough to be a legislator.

Who are the "Special Interests", anyway?
Follow the money. Broadly speaking, they are the lobbyists hired to influence legislators, and the corporate interests who employ them. The top 9 spenders against term limits in 2004 were:
[1] Arkansas Farm Bureau$105,841
[2] Arkansas Outdoor Advertising Assoc$30,000
[3] Arkansas State Chamber Of Commerce$26,710
[4] Entergy Corp$25,000
[5] Arkansas Realtors Association$25,000
[6] Stephens Group$15,000
[7] National Education Assoc$12,500
[8] Arkansas Education Assoc$12,500
[9] Tyson Foods$10,000
* From Follow The See the complete list (click "Top Donors").