Thursday, February 5, 2009

Big Day in the Arkansas House Today

Today is a big day in the Arkansas House of Representatives with votes of several controversial issues including not only the tobacco tax increase, but also a vote to do away with the Electoral College system in Arkansas, and to give easier ballot access to third parties. Blogging Representative Steve Harrelson gives us a preview…


After the House convenes at 1:30 today and passes out a resolution by Rep. Greenberg stating that the House should adjourn for business for each presidential inauguration, we'll take up debate on the funding mechanism for the statewide trauma system and other Arkansas healthcare initiatives. If everything stands as it is right now, we'll have the votes. A supermajority of 75 of the 100 members is required for passage.

The debate will be straightforward -- Rep. Gregg Reep will present the bill and will answer questions, and Speaker Robbie Wills will speak in favor of the bill. There could be only one person that speaks in opposition to the bill. Regardless, nothing said on the floor is likely to change anyone's mind -- folks know where they are on this one. If the bill passes, a procedural move will be raised immediately after the vote to "sound the ballot," meaning that each of the members voting for the bill must remain in their seat and affirm their vote when his or her name is individually called. If a member voting "yes" fails to do this, his or her name will be struck from the "yes" column in the roll call, and their vote will not count.

Other items of note on today's agenda:

HB1237: This bill to remove churches from the list of prohibited places where concealed handgun licensees may carry is likely to be referred back to Judiciary for an amendment;

HB1339: The National Popular Vote bill;

HB1246/HB1247: Ballot access bills regarding new parties.

If my sources are right, the vote on the cigarette tax will be very close. It looks like it will come down to Republican Representative from Gravette Mary Slinkard (email slinkardm@arkleg.state.ar.us – phone 479-616-2010) and Democrat Representative from Hensley Dawn Creekmore (email creekmored@arkleg.state.ar.us – phone 501-888-3411.) I am told these two votes could still go either way.

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