Amendment 73 to the state Constitution limits Arkansas constitutional officers1 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 enacted term limits in 1992.  They defeated a proposal to overturn term limits in 2004.  The unsuccessful measure was referred by the General Assembly, which has advanced another idea in 2014.


Finding: More Women & African-Americans in General Assembly


Past research has examined the General Assembly's demographic composition in the term limits era.  Greenberg (2005) found, "The standard caricature of the state legislator as white male no longer holds true in Arkansas."2


In 1991-92, 9 of 135 state legislators were women, and 12 of 135 legislators were African-American.3 In 2003-04, 22 of 135 state legislators are women – the second highest proportion in Arkansas history. Similarly, 15 of 135 state legislators are African-American–the highest proportion in Arkansas history. To the extent that these statistics illustrate the opening of previously closed doors and the creation of new opportunities for previously disadvantaged groups, they are occasions for celebration.


The 2005 finding is still in effect nearly a decade later.  The number of female General Assembly members has nearly tripled since the people of Arkansas approved term limits in 1992. The 82nd General Assembly was the first to be seated (1999) after term limits took effect in 1998.  Records show no female senators in the 35-member Senate, and 20 representatives in the 100-member House that session.4  The 89th General Assembly, seated in 2013, includes 6 female senators and 17 representatives.5  The number of African-American legislators has also increased from 12 in 1992 to 14 (2013-2014).6


In sum, more women and African-Americans are serving in the General Assembly in the term limits era.


Finding: Little Change in Legislators' Median Age


Several research issues remain unexamined.  For example, some predicted term limits would lead to a younger, more inexperienced General Assembly.  Public records show the age range (youngest-to-oldest) of members has stayed within a narrow range7 since 1992.  The median8 age of legislators has also stayed within a narrow range, as the following chart illustrates:


1991-1992             Event: people approve term limits


·         State Senate, median age:                 48

·         State House, median age:                  53

·         General Assembly, median age:        51


1999-2000             Event: term limits take effect


·         State Senate, median age:                 50

·         State House, median age:                  50

·         General Assembly, median age:        50


2013-2014             Event: new legislative proposal


·         State Senate, median age:                 52

·         State House, median age:                  53

·         General Assembly, median age:        53


In sum, there has been little change in Arkansas legislators' median age under term limits.  The median age was 51 when term limits were approved (1992); 50 when they took effect (1999); and is 53 in the current session (2013-2014).


Finding: Fewer Attorneys in General Assembly


Another unexamined issue is whether occupations have increased, decreased or remained constant in the term limits era.  Legal professionals are the largest General Assembly group.  This group includes legislators who list "attorney," "lawyer" or "law student" as their occupation. Twenty-eight (28) legal professionals served in 1992.  Thirty (30) legal professionals served in 1999.9  There are currently 22 legal professionals in the General Assembly.10


In sum, the number of legal professionals serving in the General Assembly has decreased since term limits took effect.


Finding: Other Occupations Have Increased


The number of legislative occupations has also increased, though the process appears to have taken longer.  There were forty-two (42) occupations in 1992.


Occupations, 78th General Assembly


Accountant      Administrator      Advertising
Athletic Director      Attorney       Auto Dealer
Banker       Builder       Business
Cattle Rancher      Chiropractor       Consultant
Contractor       Dentist       Development Director
Educator      Farmer       Forester
Foundation Official      General Agent       Insurance
Investments       Lab Technician      Legislator
Lodging      Minister      Optometrist
Physician      Professor      Poultry
Publisher       Radio Station Owner      Rancher
Real Estate      Rental Properties      Retail Sales
Retired      Self-Employed      Teacher
Timber      Veterans Service Officer      Vocational Counselor


Occupations increased slightly, to forty-six (46), after term limits took effect.


Occupations, 82nd Arkansas General Assembly


Attorney      Accountant      Appraiser
Assistant Manager      Auto Dealer      Banker
Business      Business Manager       Cattle Rancher
College Official      College Professor      Construction
Consultant       Contractor       Educator
Farmer      Financial Manager      Forester
Foundation Official      Funeral Director       Government Official
Homemaker      Insurance      Investment Banker
Manufactured Homes       Medical Care      None
Nurse Practitioner      Oil & Gas       Paralegal
Pastor      Pharmacist      President
Public Schools      Public Speaker      Real Estate
Restaurant Owner      Retired      Retired Educator
Retired State Employee      Sales Manager      School Supt.
Self-Employed      Speech Pathologist       Teacher

The number of occupations has increased dramatically in the 21st century.  There are sixty-five (65) occupations11 represented in the current Assembly.


Occupations, 89th Arkansas General Assembly


Account Executive      Accountant       Attorney
Auctioneer      Banker      Builder
Business Manager       Cattleman      College Faculty
Communications       Consultant      Contractor
Construction      Counselor      Dentist
Director      Economic Development      Educator (Asst. Supt.)
Engineer      Farmer      Financial Services
Fire Chief      Former Harlem Globetrotter      Former Judge
Former Vice President      Funeral Director      Grants Administrator
Graphic and Web Design      Higher Education      Hospice Chaplain
Housing Director      Insurance      Investments
Lumber      Manager, Special Projects      Marketing Director
Musician       None       Owner
Pastor      Physical Therapist      Physician
Poultry      Property Manager      Publisher
Real Estate      Regional Manager      Remodeler
Restaurateur      Retail Clerk      Retired
Retired Attorney      Retired Banker      Retired County Clerk
Retired County Judge      Retired Educator      Retired Merchant
Retired Revenue Agent      Retired (U.S. Army)      School Psychology
Small Business Owner      Tourism      Union Pacific R.R.
Utility Contractor       Vice President      


In sum, social stratification has diminished as the number of occupations represented in the General Assembly has increased in the term limits era.




Four conclusions are presented in this research report.


·         More women and African-Americans are serving in the General Assembly in the term limits era.

·         There has been little change in Arkansas legislators' median age under term limits.

·         The number of legal professionals serving in the General Assembly has decreased since term limits took effect.

·         The number of other occupations has increased.


--Greg Kaza

1 Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Auditor, Attorney General and Commissioner of State Lands.

2 Greenberg, Dan. The Dangers of Diluting Term Limits. Arkansas Policy Foundation report (January 2005)

3 (Senate, 1992)Charlie Cole Chaffin; (House) Irma Hunter Brown; Christene Brownlee; Myra Lee Jones; Wanda Northcutt; Carolyn Pollan; Jacqueline Roberts; Charlotte Schexnayder; and Judy Smith.

4 (Senate, 1999) none; (House) Sarah Agee; Evelyn Ammons; Cecile Bledsoe; Pat Bond; Ann Bush; Jo Carson; Joyce Dees; Lisa Ferrell; Mary Beth Green; Brenda Gullett; Rita Hale; Barbara Horn; Janice Judy; Barbara King; Becky Lynn; Sue Madison; Sandra Rodgers; Mary Anne Salmon; Martha Shoffner; and Wilma Walker.

5 (Senate, 2013) Cecile Bledsoe; Linda Chesterfield; Joyce Elliott; Jane English; Stephanie Flowers; Missy Irvin; (House) Mary Broadaway; Ann Clemmer; Jody Dickinson; Charlotte Douglas; Deborah Ferguson; Charlene Fite; Fonda Hawthorne; "Prissy' Hickerson; Debra Hobbs; Karen Hopper; Patti Julian; Sheilla Lampkin; Andrea Lea; Stephanie Malone; Betty Overbey; Sue Scott; and Mary Slinkard.

6  (Senate)  Linda Chesterfield; Joyce Elliott; Stephanie Flowers; (House) Charles Armstrong; Eddie Armstrong; David Fielding; Monte Hodges; Fredrick Love; Reginald Murdock; Frederick Smith; John Walker; Henry "Hank" Wilkins, IV; Darrin Williams; and James Word.

Sources: Legislative Directory, Arkansas Legislative Digest

7 There are fewer legislators aged 75-to-78 in the term limits era. State Senate age range: 29-to-78 (1991-92); 35-to-73 (1999); 33-to-72 (2013).  State House age range: 27-to-78 (1991-92); 25-to-68 (1999); 27-to-75 (2013).  Total General Assembly age range : 27-to-78 (1991-92): 25-to-73 (1999); 27-to-75 (2013).

8  The median is the middle value in a set.

9 (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; Steve Napper; Chaney Taylor; Ted Thomas; Stuart Vess; and Shawn Womack.

10 (Senate, 2013) David Burnett; Stephanie Flowers; Jeremy Hutchinson; David Johnson; Michael Lamoureux; Robert Thompson; (House) Bob Ballinger; Mary 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

11  Occupations decrease to fifty-seven (57) if retired positions are consolidated instead of listed separately.