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Shell proposals raise questions

A state legislator from El Dorado has proposed five amendments to the Arkansas Constitution. However, only one has any details.

Four of the House joint resolutions are generic “shell” bills that he acknowledged to just keep his options open.

Many of the 37 proposed constitutional amendments – 18 in the Senate and 19 in the House — filed by last Wednesday’s deadline were shell bills, with details that might be added later. Some may be considered, while others will die with little or no action taken.

The General Assembly can refer up to three proposed constitutional amendments to voters in the 2014 general election. Lawmakers also can refer a fourth proposed amendment related to salaries to the ballot. No salary amendments were proposed by the deadline.

Do we really end elections for state Supreme Court justices and name the nine members of the state’s highest court by appointment? Do we want to elect members of state Highway Commission and Game and Fish Commission? Members of the two panels are currently appointed.

Or establishing a rainy day fund to the state constitution. There is already a rainy day fund in the state statutes, but no money has been appropriated to it. However, the governor has a rainy day component as part of his discretionary fund.

Do we need an Arkansas Public Prayer Amendment or a term-limits proposal which would allow state legislators to serve up to a total of 14 years? Currently, House members are limited to six years and senators eight years.

Should we allow counties to vote to abolish the office of constable.

At least ethical behavior has progressed to the point of being a legitimate matter of concern. However, legislators tend not to want to vote for more rigid ethical standards. A ban on shell bills has potential for voters.