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Friday, Oct. 9, 2015

Coming Year to See Shift of Power in Legislature

Posted Thursday, November 15, 2012, at 9:15 AM

Arkansans had some very important and tough decisions to make at the voting booth last week. One of which was who you wanted to represent you and your 29,158 neighbors in your district at the House of Representatives.

The 83 men and 17 women Arkansans elected to serve in the 89th General Assembly gathered for the first time on the House Floor on Friday. Of those, 61 are returning members from the 88th General Assembly.

This legislative body makes history for the state. This is the first time since reconstruction that the Republican party has gained a majority. Although election results are not yet certified, there are currently 51 Republican members-elect, 48 Democrats, and one member of the Green Party.

Because of the shift in majority, Arkansas House Speaker Robert S. Moore, Jr. of the 88th General Assembly has agreed to hold a proceeding to determine if Speaker-designate Darrin Williams will serve as Speaker of the 89th General Assembly.

That proceeding will be held at noon this Thursday, Nov. 15. Members will first vote to decide if Rep. Williams will continue to serve as Speaker-designate. If he does not receive 51 votes from the membership, then any member who wishes to run for Speaker of the House will address the assembly. Members will vote for any one of the candidates by secret ballot. A member needs 51 votes from the House to be elected Speaker.

In the meantime, a drawing was held Friday morning to determine seniority for the incoming members.

Members-elect then chose their seat in order of seniority. This will be the seat assigned to that member for the duration of the 89th Regular and Fiscal Sessions.

Standing committee selection took place soon after seats were selected. The 10 standing committees in the House are where the majority of bills begin. These include Education and Public Transportation. This year selection was guided by seniority. Each member serves on two standing committees. You can find a complete list of committee membership on our website www.arkansashouse.org.

This legislative body will no doubt have their work cut out for them. The state is facing a record Medicaid shortfall. We expect to hear more details on the status of the shortfall on the morning of Nov. 15. This is when the Department of Finance and Administration will present the Governor's balanced budget proposal before Legislative Council and Joint Budget Committee.

We will keep you updated on the ongoing budget process and the election for the Speaker of the 89th General Assembly.

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Mike Patterson (D) of Piggott serves in the Arkansas State House of Representatives.