Jett Assumes Duties as State Representative
Joe Jett of Success is the new State Representative for extreme Northeast Arkansas. He was elected in the Democratic Primary to succeed Mike Patterson of Piggott, who was unable to run again due to term limitations. He faced no opposition in the General Election. Jett, a farmer, serves the newly formed 56th House District which includes all of Clay County along with portions of Greene, Randolph and Lawrence.
"When the district was re-drawn I picked-up quite a bit of Randolph County, including Maynard and down to within just a few miles of Pocahontas," he noted of his area of service. "There is also a sliver of Lawrence County out near O'Kean, but I don't think there are any residents -- it's just a rural area."
During the 89th General Assembly Jett is serving as Minority Whip, vice-chair of the Revenue and Taxation Committee and also on the Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development Committee. He's a 1978 graduate of Corning High School, and attended Phillips University and Emory Riddle Aeronautics University. His hobbies include flying, and he is a certified multi-instrument flight instructor.
Joe and his wife Lisa have two sons, Andy and Logan.
Jett's interest in flying also led to a five year term on the Arkansas Aeronautics Commission which ended in 2012. During his final year on the commission he served as commission chair. Jett also serves on the Corning Airport Commission and the Corning Economic Development Commission.
"So far it's been hurry up and wait," Jett said of the first few days of the legislative session. "We've been through orientation and training, but things so far things are moving slowly."
Despite the slow start to the session, which is under the gavel of Republican House Speaker Davy Carter of Cabot, there have already been several issues that are expected to occupy much of the lawmaker's time.
"We're already deep in discussions about Medicaid and public education funding," he noted. "I've gotten a lot of emails about the issue of charter schools, and a lot of folks are worried that they will take students and funding out of public education. Schools are the foundation of our communities, whether it's in Piggott, Rector, Marmaduke, Corning or Maynard--I don't want to see anything happen to hurt our public education system."
Jett also remarked on the budget proposals which allow no pay increases for state elected officials for the coming year. "We are going to re-visit the budget in the coming weeks though, and are looking at a possible COLA (Cost of Living Allowance) for state workers -- not legislators or constitutional officers, but workers like the people with the Highway Department."
The first term lawmaker also noted that the legislature will be taking a hard look at taxes, and added that Governor Mike Beebe still has in place a mechanism to lower the grocery tax if revenue meets certain levels. "I know we'll be taking a hard look at the budget in the coming weeks," he said.
By virtue of the draw, Jett will also have an excellent view of the proceedings as his seat in the House chamber is in the front row.
"Yes, I'll be right there front and center," he said. "I am seated next to Minority Leader Greg Leding of Fayetteville, which will allow me to work with him as the Minority Whip during times of debate."
Leding is a second-term lawmaker, as is the legislator sitting on the other side of Jett, Rep. Andy Mayberry of Hensley, a Republican.
Jett also wanted the residents of the region to know that he will always be available to constituents of the 56th House District, and he looked forward to serving them at the capitol. Those wanting to contact Jett may call his office at (870) 276-5319 or may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.