Arkansas Se­nate shuf­fles com­mit­tee re­spon­si­bil­i­ties

Texarkana Gazette - - METRO - State Sen. Jimmy Hickey Jr.

LIT­TLE ROCK—The 35-mem­ber Arkansas Se­nate held its or­ga­ni­za­tional meet­ing to elect lead­er­ship and for­mal­ize the rules for the 92nd Gen­eral Assem­bly of the leg­is­la­ture, which con­venes in reg­u­lar ses­sion on Jan. 14.

The changes in Se­nate rules will af­fect which com­mit­tees will con­sider pro­posed leg­is­la­tion af­fect­ing al­co­hol, tobacco, firearms and med­i­cal mar­i­juana.

Pre­vi­ously, bills that af­fect gun laws would go to the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee. How­ever, un­der the new rules they will be re­ferred to the Se­nate Com­mit­tee on City, County and Lo­cal Af­fairs.

Bills af­fect­ing tobacco and al­co­hol used to be re­ferred to the Com­mit­tee on State Agen­cies and Gov­ern­men­tal Af­fairs, but now they will go to the City, County and Lo­cal Af­fairs Com­mit­tee.

Med­i­cal mar­i­juana bills will be re­ferred to the Se­nate Com­mit­tee on Agri­cul­ture, Forestry and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment. Arkansas vot­ers ap­proved a con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment in 2016 le­gal­iz­ing med­i­cal mar­i­juana.

In the 2017 ses­sion, much of the en­abling leg­is­la­tion that put in place the mech­a­nism for cul­ti­va­tion and re­tail sale of med­i­cal mar­i­juana was re­ferred to the Se­nate and House Com­mit­tees on Pub­lic Health, Wel­fare and La­bor.

The gen­eral con­sen­sus among sen­a­tors was that the changes in rules were nec­es­sary to more evenly dis­trib­ute the work­load dur­ing the 2019 ses­sion. The com­mit­tees on Pub­lic Health, Ju­di­ciary and State Agen­cies tra­di­tion­ally have very lengthy agen­das.

The rules changes were adopted be­fore sen­a­tors chose their com­mit­tee as­sign­ments, and there­fore in­di­vid­ual sen­a­tors with a par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est in al­co­hol, tobacco, firearms or med­i­cal mar­i­juana were able to choose the com­mit­tees with ju­ris­dic­tion over those is­sues.

The sen­a­tors elected Sen. Jim Hen­dren of Gravette as pres­i­dent pro tem­pore for the next

two years. Sen. Bart Hester of Cave Springs will be the ma­jor­ity leader, and Sen. Scott Flippo of Bull Shoals will be ma­jor­ity whip. Sen. Keith In­gram of West Mem­phis will be mi­nor­ity leader and Sen. Will Bond of Lit­tle Rock the mi­nor­ity whip.

Sen. Larry Teague of Nashville will chair the Joint Bud­get Com­mit­tee. Sen. Jonathan Dis­mang of Beebe will chair the Se­nate Revenue and Tax­a­tion Com­mit­tee.

Sen. Ronald Cald­well of Wynne will chair the Se­nate Com­mit­tee on State Agen­cies and Gov­ern­men­tal Af­fairs, and Sen. Ja­son Rapert of Con­way will chair the Se­nate Com­mit­tee on In­sur­ance and Com­merce. The Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Chair­man will be Sen. Alan Clark of Lons­dale. Sen. Gary Stub­ble­field of Branch will chair the Se­nate Com­mit­tee on City, County and Lo­cal Af­fairs.

Sen. Missy Irvin of Moun­tain View will chair the Se­nate Pub­lic Health, Wel­fare and La­bor Com­mit­tee, and Sen. John Cooper of Jones­boro will chair the Se­nate Agri­cul­ture, Forestry and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Com­mit­tee.

The Se­nate Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mit­tee will be chaired by Sen. Jane English of North Lit­tle Rock. Sen. Blake Johnson of Corn­ing will chair the Se­nate Com­mit­tee on Trans­porta­tion, Tech­nol­ogy and Leg­isla­tive Af­fairs. Sen. Bill Sam­ple of Hot Springs will be co-chair of the Pub­lic Re­tire­ment and So­cial Se­cu­rity Com­mit­tee. Sen. Ce­cile Bled­soe of Rogers will be Se­nate co-chair of the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil, and Sen. Rapert will be Se­nate co-chair of the Leg­isla­tive Joint Au­dit­ing Com­mit­tee.

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