AG Opinions: ACD valuations, mental health evaluations, and fire districts
By Mark Whitmore, AAC Chief Legal Counsel
AG OPINION NO. 2019-053
The Attorney General weighed in on the authority of the Assessment Coordination Division (ACD) of the Department of Finance and Administration to issue valuation models and guidelines. The AG explained the ACD is not required to submit their valuation models for poultry houses for the approval of the General Assembly under Amendment 92. The various evaluation models that the ACD issues are not rules. Amendment 92 of the Arkansas Constitution did not change the meaning of what constitutes a rule by a state agency. The evaluation models of the ACD do not interpret or prescribe law or policy; and therefore, are not subject to review by the General Assembly. The ACD guidance and evaluation models are necessary to assist assessors in performing their duties under the Arkansas Constitution to assess real and personal property in Arkansas.
AG OPINION NO. 2019-052
The AG determined that a circuit judge may not consider a criminal defendant’s status as an indigent in whether or not to order a mental evaluation. A court-ordered mental evaluation can not be granted or denied based upon the defendant’s economic status. There is some suggestion that a court may order a fitness to proceed evaluation under ACA §5-2-327 and require the non-indigent defendant to cover those costs even if the state requests the examination. A criminal defendant may request and be granted the ability to seek his or her own independent evaluation. A second opinion evaluation. The state is not required to pay for shopping for doctors. The state has no obligation to pay for an evaluation retained by the defendant as per ACA § 16-86-105.
AG OPINION NO. 2019-067
The AG explained some of the distinctions between an advisory board and administrative board as provided by ACA § 14-14-705. Counties can elect by ordinance whether to establish an advisory board or administrative board. A county advisory board lacks decision-making authority, is not a governing body, and therefore may not be subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The AG noted that the lack of codification of an ordinance, such as the ordinance creating the county election commission advisory, does not render an ordinance invalid. The AG explained that if the county followed the requisites under the law for the adoption of an ordinance, it is not to be held invalid for failure to be confided within a uniform code.
AG OPINION NOs.
2019-032 and 2019-064
The AG responded to inquiries from the Hon. Daniel Shue, prosecuting attorney, Twelfth Judicial District, concerning Act 1077 of 2019, which sought to provide for the establishment and continuation of a fire protection district in the absence of the will of the people. Previous AG Opinions Nos. 2019-0032 and 2018-136 interpreted Act 1077 of 2019, ACA § 14-284-226. The AG determined that the act was not retroactive and came into effect prospectively. The AG determined that Act 1077 of 2019 did not violate Amendment 30 of the Arkansas Constitution or the power of the quorum court to enact county taxes. The AG concluded that the assessments of fire protection districts are merely assessments and not taxes. The AG explicitly determined that the act does not violate separation of powers under Article 4, Section 2, of the Arkansas Constitution. The AG indicated that there’s no established procedure to be followed if a quorum court refuses to establish a fire protection district as provided by Act 1077 of 2019.