FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — One of the issues on Arkansas’ November ballot in 2022 is Issue 1, which would allow Arkansas’ Legislature to call itself into special session. Currently, only Arkansas’ governor has that power.
But if voters approve the measure, it would amend the state’s constitution to allow legislators to create a special session under two circumstances: either a proclamation with the support of the leader of the senate and the leader of the house, or a proclamation with the signed support of two-thirds of all house and senate members.
“For me,” starts State Representative Fran Cavenaugh, who sponsored the amendment, “it really was a way to try to equalize the balance between the branches of government.”
Cavenaugh says giving the governor the sole power to call special sessions is an imbalance that stood out when COVID-19 started to spread.
“That’s what really brought this to my idea was during the pandemic,” says Cavenaugh, “when there were things that needed to be addressed that we could not bring ourselves in to address.”
Governor Asa Hutchinson has an opposing view, telling KNWA, “I’m going to vote no on Issue 1.”
Hutchinson says approving Issue 1 would remove an important check on the power of the legislature, and allow members to keep themselves in session for any reason.
“I think the better constitutional protection is to limit that to the call of the governor,” says Hutchinson.
All three major Arkansas gubernatorial candidates have expressed either their hesitation or opposition to passing Issue 1.