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Arkansas

State Senate strips Clark of seniority for 2 years, elects Hester president pro tempore

The Arkansas Senate voted Thursday to alleviate Sen. Alan Clark, R-Lonsdale, of his seniority and elect Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, as its chairman for the 94th General Assembly from 2023-2025.

In an oral vote with a number of dissenting senators, the Senate voted to have Clark lose his seniority for the 94th General Assembly starting Jan. 9, leaving him within the thirty fifth place.

In late September, the Senate voted 26-4 to search out that Clark had violated Senate ethics guidelines by submitting false, frivolous, and retaliatory ethics violation costs towards Sen. Stephanie Flowers, D-Pine Bluff, and round Clark to droop and strip him of his seniority till the beginning of the common session on Jan. 9 and suggest that the Senate strip him of his seniority for the next two years.

Clark informed senators Thursday that his ethics criticism towards Flowers was not frivolous and that state legislatures shouldn’t be paid per diems as expense reimbursements on weekends throughout legislative periods.

He mentioned he was disillusioned within the State Senate.

“I used to care what you thought,” Clark informed the senators. “I would have thought you would have known me better and some of you didn’t and didn’t have the courage to stand up.”

In July, the Senate voted to search out and sanctioned Senator Mark Johnson, R-Ferndale and Clark in violation of Senate ethics guidelines. The motion got here after Clark requested Johnson to register him for reimbursement of public funds for attending a boys’ state assembly on June 3, which Clark didn’t attend.

The Senate stripped Clark of committee chair and vice chair positions and blocked his entitlement to subsistence allowances and commuting bills for the rest of this 12 months, reprimanded him and dominated that future Senate presidents shouldn’t, pro tempores, think about Clark for appointment to the Ethics Committee State Boy, State Girl, or Senate. He beforehand served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Clark has served on the state Senate since 2013.

As Senate President pro tempore, Hester Sen. will succeed Jimmy Hickey, R-Texarkana, starting in common session. Hickey has served as Senate chief since 2021.

“This is a responsibility I assume with great care,” Hester mentioned briefly remarks after the Senate elected him pro tempore Senate President by acclamation throughout its inaugural session forward of the common session on Jan. 9.

Hester thanked Hickey for his help in helping Hester in making ready for the place of Senate President pro interim.

“This is a bigger job than I might have even expected and I’ve been here 10 years and I can’t imagine doing this without Jimmy Hickey,” he mentioned. “I think this transition will have meaning for our entire body, the way we treat each other.”

Hester is a house builder and actual property agent who has served within the Senate since 2013 and has had a stint open at occasions.

In March of this 12 months, the Senate elected Hester by unanimous acclamation as Senate President-elect pro tempore. This got here after Senate Republicans chosen Hester over Benton’s Hickey and Kim Hammer as their nominee as pro tempore Senate President-elect.

In April 2020, Senate Republicans chosen Hester as their nominee for pro tempore Senate President-elect. At the time, Hickey mentioned he determined towards working within the Republican faction of the Senate as a candidate for president-elect pro tempore as a result of he needed the 35 members of the Senate to vote for him.

At that point, the Senate consisted of 26 Republicans and 9 Democrats. Then the whole Senate, with the obvious assist of a coalition of Senate Republicans and Democrats, chosen Hickey over Hester as pro tempore president-elect in a secret poll in a choice that stunned Hester.

The Senate will consist of 29 Republicans and 6 Democrats within the 94th General Assembly.

The Senate additionally voted 24-6 on Thursday to alter the principles to restrict the minority get together to 2 of the eight members on standing committees.

Corning Sen. Blake Johnson, who’s the Republican chief of the Senate, mentioned the Democrats’ two-member standing committee limitation would replicate the composition of the state Senate.

But Sen. Clarke Tucker, D-Little Rock, informed his colleagues: “I think this rule weakens this institution and is a bad way to start the 94th General Assembly.

Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, subsequently elected to chair the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee, replacing outgoing Sen. Cecile Bledsoe, R-Rogers, rather than continue as chair of the Senate Education Committee.

She said in an interview that she wants to track the implementation of the state’s Medicaid expansion program and the possible reduction in the state’s state matching rate for the traditional Medicaid program, and it should help bring her knowledge to the Senate Public Health Committee bring in new management takes over the executive.

The change in committee chair from Irvin paved the way for Sen. Jane English, R-North Little Rock, to return to chair the Senate Education Committee.

English said in an interview that she has been interested in education and human resource development since she was in the legislature, and “that is additionally the brand new governor’s agenda, so we’ll look to ensure we align our training system with the roles for the long run and the issues which are in demand, kindergarten by profession.

“It’s not just K-12.”

She mentioned she hasn’t heard a lot dialogue amongst lawmakers about increasing college selection.

Hickey determined to chair the Senate Tax and Revenue Committee, which offers with tax-related laws, to interchange outgoing Senator Bill Sample, R-Hot Springs.

“I’m all for tax cuts and I want to do it, but we have to be very thoughtful and very conscientious about what we’re doing,” he mentioned in an interview. (*2*)

The senators of the joint price range committee then elected Senator Jonathan Dismang, R-Searcy, to co-chair this committee, which examines price range accounts.

Legislative Council Senators have re-elected Sen. Terry Rice, R-Waldron, as Council Co-Chair.

The senators of the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee elected Senator David Wallace, R-Leachville, as co-chair of the committee, changing Senator Ronald Caldwell, R-Wynne.

Corning Senator Johnson elected to chair the Senate State Agencies and Government Affairs Committee, which can determine what constitutional amendments, if any, ought to apply to voters within the 2024 common election.

Other Senate committee chairs embrace:

• City, County and Local Affairs: Senator Scott Flippo, R-Mountain Home.

• Agriculture, forestry and financial growth: Caldwell.

• Insurance and Trade: Senator Ricky Hill, R-Cabot.

• Judiciary: Senator Gary Stubblefield, R Branch.

• Transportation, Technology and Legislation: Mark Johnson.

• Rules: Senator-Elect and Representative Clint Penzo, R-Springdale.

• Efficiency: Sen. Breanne Davis, R-Russellville.

• Joint Performance Review: Sen. Kim Hammer, R-Benton.

• Shared Power: Senator Ben Gilmore, R-Crossett.

• Common Children and Youth: Senator-elect Bryan King, R-Green Forest.

• Joint Public Pension and Social Security Programs: Senator-Elect and Representative John Payton, R-Wiburn.

The senators additionally referenced whether or not they would serve a two-year time period for re-election in 2024 or a four-year time period as a senator for re-election in 2026.

Two-year senators embrace Sen. Linda Chesterfield, D-Little Rock; Senator Dan Sullivan, R-Jonesboro; Senator Mark Johnson; Senator-elect Matt McKee, R-Pearce; Senator-elect Jim Petty, R-Van Buren; Senator-elect Steve Crowell, R-Magnolia; Senator-Elect and Rep. Jim Dotson, R-Bentonville; and Davis, Dismang, Flippo, Flowers, Gimore, Hester, Hickey, Payton, Rice, Stubblefield and Wallace.

Four-year tenure senators embrace Senator Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville; Senator-Elect and Representative Reginald Murdock, D-Marianna; Senator-Elect and Rep. Justin Boyd, R-Fort Smith; Senator-Elect and Rep. Joshua Bryant, R-Rogers; Senator-elect Matt Stone, R-Camden; Senator-elect Tyler Dees, R-Siloam Springs; Senator-Elect and Rep. Fred Love, D-Little Rock; and Blake Johnson, Caldwell, Clark, English, Hammer, Hill, Irvin, King, Penzo, and Tucker.

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