AG Opinions: From crisis units to clarification on civil offices

By Mark Whitmore, AAC Chief Legal Counsel

AG OPINION NO. 2018-077

The Attorney General (AG) explained that Ark Code § 20-47-210 authorizes and provides a duty to law enforcement officers to transport persons that are a danger to themselves or others to a mental health facility. Act 423 of 2017 establishes the Behavioral Health Crisis Intervention Protocol, which directs persons with behavioral or mental impairments to a regional crisis stabilization unit, if a unit exists. In essence, the old protocol Ark Code § 20-47-210 is intact. The new protocol under Act 423 of 2017 is available where a regional crisis unit is operational.

AG OPINION NO. 2018-080

The AG opined that Amendment 78 of the Arkansas Constitution may be used to finance a road grader lease. Amendment 78 provides for cities and counties to incur short-term debt, pledging its general credit, for the acquisition, construction, installation or renting of real and tangible property having a useful life of more than one year. The AG noted that rebuilding or reconstruction of a road grader would not be authorized under Amendment 78. The AG explained that Amendment 78 is for acquiring, constructing, installing or renting real or tangible personal property. The amendment refers to debt instruments as short-term financing obligations. These instruments are for: debts, notes, installment purchase agreements, lease and lease-purchase contracts or any other similar agreements. These instruments must mature or have a term not to exceed five years. The governing body, the Quorum Court, must approve these agreements by Ark. Code § 14-78-101 et seq., the Local Government Financing Act, was adopted in furtherance of Amendment 78, and it distinguishes between short-term financing obligations and short-term financing agreements (which is defined as any loan, line of credit, note purchase, security agreement, mortgage or similar agreement).

AG OPINION NO. 2018-124

The AG explained a Quorum Court is afforded a reasonable time to consider a petition under Ark. Code § 14-20-108 for fire dues to be collected by the collector. The law directs that upon compliance with the provisions of law and the levy is approved, the fire dues shall be included on the property tax bills without delay.

AG OPINION NO. 2018-120

The AG was posed with “civil office” questions. Whether a person can simultaneously serve as both coroner and school board member? May a coroner run and serve on school board? Whether a school board member may run and serve as coroner? A sitting county coroner may not run for school board as prohibited by the Amendment 95 of the Arkansas Constitution. Article 7, Section 53 of the Arkansas Constitution provides a person elected or appointed to county office shall not, during the term for which he or she is elected or appointed, run or be appointed to another civil office in the state of Arkansas. The law and case law does not prohibit a school board member running and serving as a county official. The AG explained the prohibition is imposed upon county officials as part of Amendment 95. There is no prohibition on a school board member from running and serving in a county office. Rep. Mike Holcomb and Sen. Bob Ballinger sponsored legislation clarifying “civil office.” See: HB 1395, now Act 639 of 2019.

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