Backers Of Term Limits Amendment Call It Quits, Short On Signatures

Jul 1, 2016

File photo of Tim Jacob (left), of the group Restore Term Limits in 2014.
Credit Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Organizers of a proposal to limit the number of years Arkansas legislators can remain in office say they’ve failed to gather enough signatures to put the measure on the November general election ballot.

Tim Jacob, a spokesman for the group Restore Term Limits told KUAR on Friday, the campaign is about 20-25,000 signatures short of the 85,859 signature threshold needed to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot. The deadline to turn petitions into the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office is Friday, July 8.

Jacob said the group most recently made a count of signatures on Wednesday and determined it was unfeasible to continue working on the petition process. He said the signature gathering has been difficult despite what he gauges as the measure’s wide support.

“We just didn’t have enough people gathering [signatures]. I’m sure, like always, the voters support term limits and support strict term limits....but getting something on the ballot is a lot different than having voters vote on it. It just takes a lot of effort from a lot of people and it’s a painstaking uphill battle. If it was on the ballot it would surely win,” he said.

The proposed amendment would have limited the number of years a state representative could serve in office to six, while limiting state senators to eight years. It would also have limited t the number of years a legislator could serve in both chambers to 10.

State constitutional amendment 94, passed by voters in 2014, allows legislators to serve up to 16 years in either or both chambers. The amendment has been criticized by the Restore Term Limits group for having a misleading ballot title, officially the “Arkansas Elected Officials Ethics, Transparency and Financial Reform Amendment.” Jacob said the amendment was “trying to fool the voters.”

Amendment 94 also barred legislators from accepting gifts from lobbyists, barred corporate contributions to state elected officials and stipulated that lawmakers had to wait a year before becoming lobbyists. It also created a citizens commission that raised legislators’ salaries

According to the group’s most recent financial disclosure report with the Arkansas Ethics Commission, dated June 16, it had raised a total of $82,587.58. Of that, it had spent a total of $51,940.62 since its formation in July of last year. 

Backers of four other proposed constitutional amendments are also gathering signatures ahead of the July 8 deadline. Two would allow medical marijuana to sold in the state; one would legalize all types of marijuana, recreational or medical; one would allow the legislature to set limits on the amount of money awarded in medical lawsuits; and one would allow three-specified private entities to operate casinos in three counties.

Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled Tim Jacob's last name.