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LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Supreme Court on Friday ordered election officials to not count votes cast for a ballot measure that would have imposed the strictest term limits in the country on state legislators.

In a 4-3 ruling disqualifying the proposed initiative, the court said that thousands of signatures submitted by supporters were invalid and should not have been counted. The court did not rule on part of the lawsuit challenging the wording of the proposed amendment.

The court agreed with a special judge it had appointed to review the petitions who said thousands of signatures should be tossed out for not complying with requirements for paid signature-gatherers.

"Not only did Issue 3's supporters fail to properly collect the signatures required by law, but the measure would have stuck Arkansans with the most restrictive term limits in our country —a step in the wrong direction," Randy Zook, president of the state Chamber of Commerce and the head of the campaign against the measure.

An attorney for Term Limits Arkansas, the group backing the measure, said the court relied on "hyper technical paperwork violations" to invalidate the signatures.

"This ruling does no less than strip Arkansans of their first right under the Arkansas Constitution, the right to petition the government," Chad Pekron said. "We are continuing to review the opinion and consider our next options."

The measure would have limited Arkansas lawmakers to two four-year terms in the Senate and three two-year terms in the House, with a total cap of 10 years in office. Arkansas lawmakers are currently limited to a total of 16 years in the Legislature and can serve all of that time in one chamber if they wish. They can also serve in office for longer if they serve partial terms due to redistricting or a special election.

Voters approved Arkansas' current limits in 2014 after the GOP-Legislature put the measure on the ballot. Previously, lawmakers were limited to two terms in the Senate and three in the House, for a total of 14 years. Supporters of the new limits say the Legislature misled voters by including the 16-year cap on a measure that was intended to focus on ethics and campaign finance reforms.

This year's proposal also would have prohibited the Legislature from putting any more term limit changes on the ballot.

The proposal is the second ballot measure disqualified by the state Supreme Court. Justices on Thursday upheld a judge's ruling that a measure limiting damages awarded in civil lawsuits was unconstitutional.

Read Saturday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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Archived Comments

  • UoABarefootPhdFICYMCA
    October 19, 2018 at 11:09 a.m.

    Haha. In Britain this is called taking the piss on you.

    Republicans like it though when Exec-Tors tell them what they can and cannot make their BETTER do. LOL

  • noname2u
    October 19, 2018 at 2:03 p.m.

    I understand that the signatures on the petition must be collected correctly. That's the best reason for the finding.

    But I disagree with this: ""Not only did Issue 3's supporters fail to properly collect the signatures required by law, but the measure would have stuck Arkansans with the most restrictive term limits in our country —a step in the wrong direction," Randy Zook, president of the state Chamber of Commerce and the head of the campaign against the measure.

    We all know the problems with unrestricted terms; the foxes guard the hen houses. What is inherently wrong with Arkansas having the most restrictive term limits in our country? That's an issue in which we should want to lead the way.

  • 0boxerssuddenlinknet
    October 19, 2018 at 2:37 p.m.

    No name did this article state that the Arkansas voters decided on the term limits just four years ago ? I think it highly inappropriate for the chamber to even make such a statement after a legal decision by our supreme court. Do you believe that the Arkansas supreme court was incorrect in its ruling and if so what law or laws did they bend or overlook in their decision ?

  • ZeebronZ
    October 19, 2018 at 2:38 p.m.

    Randy Zook is not on the citizenry's side, he's on the politicians side. A step in the wrong direction? Remember people like Orville Faubus, Wilbur D. Mills, and others who have kept this state mired in the ruts left by the Civil War. On another note, you didn't really think this would make it ontpo the ballot, did you? Gotta take care of the "Good Ol' Boys."

  • HerrValkyrie
    October 19, 2018 at 3:41 p.m.

    The State Justices must be Dems. Being relatively new to Arkansas, I am quickly realizing the State is politically corrupt, and has a tendency to becoming morally corrupt. Of course they are NOT going to vote to pull the Casino Amendment that will sell the State to the Oklahoma Indian Nation and line the pockets of the State's corrupt politicians and special interest groups.

  • 2thepoint
    October 19, 2018 at 7:59 p.m.

    The Chamber of Commerce has the business and corporate community as their priorities. They are a huge lobby so if defeating term limits is a big deal to them, who do you think shorter term limits helps. The everyday blue collar worker. The little fellow. The tax payer. The chamber is a republican organization. I am for stricter term limits. I am for the everyday man. I am voting straight democrat down the line.

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