When we began our research on legislative expense reimbursements, we found Amendment 70 to the Arkansas constitution was less than 20 years old, so we decided to do a little research to see how this change came about. The results were interesting and speak to the “spirit of the law.” We find this to be important if you want to fully grasp this issue and how the current policies were put into practice.
In 1978, Steve Clark was elected as Arkansas Attorney General.
In 1990, Clark stated his intention to run against incumbent Governor Bill Clinton; weeks later, his campaign fell apart under accusations about his misuse of his state expense account.
In late 1990, Clark was convicted on felony charges of using his state expense account for personal entertainment.
In 1991, the General Assembly drafted a ballot initiative for a new constitutional amendment. This was presented to the voters as way to stop expense abuse problems like the ones we saw with Clark.
In the same legislative session, the General Assembly also passed a statute to allow for monthly expense reimbursements for themselves.
In 1992, Amendment 70 was approved by Arkansas voters in the general election. It passed with over 60% support.
Interesting side note: One House member sponsored the ballot initiative to require no other income, while also sponsoring House bill to allow expense reimbursements for the General Assembly. (click image for larger version)
If you have not yet done so, we highly recommend you check out the pages regarding the legal framework which controls our state legislators’ compensation and expense reimbursements:
If you’re ready to see where your Representative and Senator stand on this issue, check out their invoices here, and check to see if they were willing to sign our Pledge.