ARKANSAS TERM LIMITS:
FEWER ATTORNEYS IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY
First in a multi-part series on term limits, approved by the people in 1992 and 2004.
(February 2014) The number of General Assembly members who list "attorney" or "lawyer" as their current or former profession has declined by nearly one-third since the people of Arkansas approved term limits in 1992.1
Amendment 73 to the state Constitution limits Arkansas constitutional officers2 to two four-year terms. The amendment limits state senators to two four-year terms. The amendment limits state representatives to three two-year terms.
The people of Arkansas defeated a proposal to overturn term limits in 2004. The unsuccessful measure was referred by the General Assembly, which has placed another proposal to overturn term limits on the November 2014 ballot.
The Effect of Term Limits: Attorneys
The 82nd General Assembly was the first to be seated (1999) after term limits took effect in 1998. Records show 15 senators in the 35-member Senate, and 15 representatives in the 100-member House were listed as attorneys or lawyers that session.3 The same number (30) served in 1992 when voters approved term limits. Yet the 89th General Assembly, seated in 2013, includes only 6 senators and 16 representatives listed as attorneys or lawyers.4
In sum, the number of legal professionals serving in the General Assembly since term limits took effect has declined from 30 to 22, or by nearly one-third.
1 Sixty percent (60%) of the people approved term limits in 1992. Greenberg, Dan. "The Dangers of Diluting Term Limits." Policy Foundation report (January 2005)
2 Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Auditor, Attorney General and Commissioner of State Lands.
3 (Senate, 1999) Mike Bearden; Mike Beebe; Gunner DeLay; Clark Dowd; Mike Everett; Allen Gordon; Morril Harriman; Cliff Hoffman; George Hopkins; John Kennedy; Bill Lewellen; Jodie Mahony; Bill Walters; Doyle Webb; Nick Wilson; (House) Michael Booker; Jo Carson; Herschel Cleveland; Thomas Courtway; Lisa Ferrell; Rita Hale; Mike Hathorn; Russell Hunt; Jim Luker; Becky Lynn; State Napper; Chaney Taylor; Ted Thomas; Stuart Vess; and Shawn Womack.
4 (Senate, 2013) David Burnett; Stephanie Flowers; Jeremy Hutchinson; David Johnson; Michael Lamoureux; Robert Thompson; (House) Bob Ballinger; Mart Broadaway; Davy Carter; John Edwards; Douglas House; Patti Julian; David Kizzia; Jim Nickels; Matthew Shepherd; Nate Steel; John Vines; Wes Wagner; John Walker; David Whitaker; Darin Williams; and Marshall Wright.
Sources: Legislative Directory, Arkansas Legislative Digest