Arkansas Issue 3: Salary commission for judges and others

Arkansas voters will have in the form of Issue 3 a whole host of topics all in one vote. The ballot item, originally three separate bills that were merged together includes changes to legislative term limits as well as limits on lobbyist contributions and gifts to officials.

Of particular relevance to the courts are three provisions that will be examined this week:

  • Independent Citizens Commission: Commission to set all salaries for judges/justices, members of the General Assembly, and elected constitutional officers of the executive department. The salary recommendations are to go into effective automatically without the need for separate appropriation.
  • Increase/diminishment during term of office: currently “salaries and expenses may be increased but not diminished during the term for which [] judges are elected.” Issue 3 would  reword the provision.
  • Uniform judicial salaries: The state constitution also provides that “the salaries of Circuit and Chancery Judges shall be uniform throughout the state.” Although Arkansas disbanded its Chancery Courts in 2001, the Circuit Courts remain.