Arkansas State Senate
|Arkansas State Senate|
|Term limits:||2 terms (8 years)|
|2014 session start:||February 10, 2014|
|Website:||Official Senate Page|
|Majority Leader:||Eddie Joe Williams (R)|
|Minority leader:||Keith Ingram (D)|
Democratic Party (13)
Republican Party (20)Vacant (2)
|Length of term:||4 years|
|Authority:||Art 8, Section 3, Arkansas Constitution|
|Salary:||$15,362/year + $136/day|
|Last Election:||November 4, 2014 (18 seats)|
|Next election:||November 8, 2016|
|Redistricting:||Arkansas Board of Apportionment|
- 1 Sessions
- 2 Ethics and transparency
- 3 Elections
- 4 Redistricting
- 5 Senators
- 6 Senate committees
- 7 History
- 8 External links
- 9 References
As of December 2014, Arkansas is one of 14 states that is under divided government and is therefore not one of the state government trifectas.
Article V of the Arkansas Constitution establishes when the Arkansas General Assembly, of which the Senate is a part, is to convene. Section 5 of Article V establishes the beginning date for regular sessions, but this date has been changed by law (as Section 5 allows). Under the law, the Arkansas legislature convenes its regular session on the second Monday in January of every odd numbered year. The fiscal session is convened on the second Monday in February of every even numbered year.
Section 17 of Article V limits the length of sessions to sixty days, unless extended by a two-thirds vote of each legislative house.
- See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions
In 2014, the Legislature was in session from February 10 to March 20.
Major issues in the 2014 legislative session included private option Medicaid expansion and a $5 billion proposed budget for the coming fiscal year. The legislature also established an entrepreneurship program for college seniors called the Arkansas Fellowship. Due to a 2008 constitutional amendment, sessions held in even-numbered years may only address financial matters.
- See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 14 through May 17.
Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included an agreement on expanding the Medicaid program by providing private insurance for low-income residents, a two percent increase in per-student funding for public schools and a bill that requires voters to show photo identification at the polls. During the first budget negotiations of the year, the Joint Budget Committee rejected a pay increase for elected officials.
- See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions
In 2012, the Senate was in session from February 13 to March 13.
- See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions
In 2011, the Senate was in session from January 10 to April 27.
- See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions
In 2010, the Senate convened for its Fiscal Session, meeting from February 8th to March 4th.
Role in state budget
- See also: Arkansas state budget
- Budget instructions are sent to state agencies in May of the year preceding the start of the new biennium.
- State agencies submit their budget requests to the governor in July.
- Agency hearings are held from August through October.
- Public hearings are held from October through December.
- The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the state legislature in November.
- The state legislature debates the budget from January through April. The budget must be passed by a three-fourths majority.
- The fiscal year begins July 1.
The governor is required by statute to submit a balanced budget. The legislature is not legally required to pass a balanced budget, but the governor is required by statute to sign a balanced budget.
The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative released a report in July 2013 which indicated that cost-benefit analysis in policymaking led to more effective uses of public funds. Looking at data from 2008 through 2011, the study's authors found that some states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis while others were facing challenges and lagging behind the rest of the nation. Among the challenges states faced were a lack of time, money and technical skills needed to conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses. Arkansas was one of 29 states with mixed results regarding the frequency and effectiveness in its use of cost-benefit analysis.
Ethics and transparency
Following the Money report
- See also: Following the Money 2014 Report
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-focused nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report on state transparency websites in April 2014. The report, entitled "Following the Money," measured how transparent and accountable state websites are with regard to state government spending. According to the report, Arkansas received a grade of B- and a numerical score of 82, indicating that Arkansas was "advancing" in terms of transparency regarding state spending.
Open States Transparency
The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Arkansas was given a grade of A in the report. The report card evaluated how adequate, complete and accessible legislative data is to the general public. A total of 10 states received an A -- Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
- See also: Arkansas State Senate elections, 2014
Elections for the office of Arkansas State Senate took place in 2014. A primary election took place on May 20, 2014; a runoff election took place on June 10, 2014. The general election was held on November 4, 2014. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was March 3, 2014.
- See also: Arkansas State Senate elections, 2012
Elections for the office of Arkansas State Senate were held in Arkansas on November 6, 2012. A total of 35 seats were up for election. Although Arkansas senators typically serve four-year terms, they are elected to a two-year term during the first election of the decade. Thus, rather than only half of all senators being up for election, all sitting members were on the ballot in November. The signature filing deadline was March 1, 2012, and the primary election was held on May 22, 2012.
Arkansas State Senators are subject to term limits and may serve no more than 2 four-year terms. In 2012, 10 Arkansas State Senators were termed-out.
The following table details the 10 districts with the smallest margin of victory in the November 6 general election.
|2012 Margin of Victory, Arkansas State Senate|
|District||Winner||Margin of Victory||Total Votes||Top Opponent|
|District 34||Jane English||0.8%||36,152||Barry Hyde|
|District 27||Bobby Pierce||1%||31,311||Henry L. Firsby, II|
|District 26||Eddie Cheatham||1.2%||28,603||Mike Akin|
|District 20||Robert Thompson||1.7%||26,785||Blake Johnson|
|District 19||David Wyatt||2.4%||30,158||Linda Collins-Smith|
|District 11||Jimmy Hickey, Jr.||4.9%||27,658||Steve Harrelson|
|District 23||Ronald Caldwell||6.1%||26,012||Jerry Brown|
|District 13||Alan Clark||8.2%||30,069||Mike Fletcher|
|District 35||Jason Rapert||8.5%||29,431||Linda Tyler|
|District 28||Jonathan Dismang||9.1%||28,820||Tiffany Rogers|
- See also: Arkansas State Senate elections, 2010
Elections for the office of Arkansas State Senator were held in Arkansas on November 2, 2010. State senate seats in 17 of the 35 districts were on the ballot in 2010. The 17 districts where electoral contests took place in 2010 are: 5, 6, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, 34 and 35.
The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in these elections was March 8, 2010, and the primary Election Day was May 18, 2010.
According to Article 5 of the Arkansas Constitution, Arkansas state senators are each elected to four-year terms with term limits. However, in the first election after the census, all 35 seats were up for election. The Senators "shall divide themselves into two classes, by lot, and the first class shall hold their places for two years only, after which all shall be elected for four years."
In 2010, candidates running for senate raised a total of $3,771,126 in campaign funds. Their top 10 contributors were:
|2010 Donors, Arkansas State Senate|
|Arkansas Healthcare Association||$113,000|
|Arkansas State Farm Insurance||$39,500|
|Arkansas Realtors Association||$38,500|
|Harrison, Barrett E||$34,500|
|Morton, Michael S||$29,000|
- See also: Arkansas State Senate elections, 2008
Elections for the office of Arkansas State Senate consisted of a primary election on May 20, 2008 and a general election on November 4, 2008.
During the 2008 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $2,304,660. The top 10 contributors were:
|2008 Donors, Arkansas State Senate|
|White, Joe M||$99,824|
|Arkansas Healthcare Association||$57,186|
|Friedkin Business Services||$36,000|
|Rural Arkansas Telecommunications Association||$25,000|
|Morton, Michael S||$24,000|
|Arkansas State Farm Insurance||$21,000|
|Cmte to Save Arkansas Jobs||$21,000|
- See also: Arkansas State Senate elections, 2006
Elections for the office of Arkansas State Senate consisted of a primary election on May 5, 2006 and a general election on November 7, 2006.
During the 2006 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $1,575,949. The top 10 contributors were:
|2006 Donors, Arkansas State Senate|
|Arkansas Healthcare Association||$75,250|
|Carver, Joel & Lynn||$35,000|
|Southwestern Energy Co||$32,750|
|Arkansas Medical Society||$27,000|
|Arkansas State Farm Insurance||$26,250|
|Simes, Alvin L||$22,721|
|Rural Arkansas Telecommunications Association||$22,000|
- See also: Arkansas State Senate elections, 2004
Elections for the office of Arkansas State Senate consisted of a primary election on May 18, 2004 and a general election on November 2, 2004.
During the 2004 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $1,284,171. The top 10 contributors were:
|2004 Donors, Arkansas State Senate|
|Arkansas Healthcare Association||$32,000|
|Dees, Joyce A||$25,200|
|Wilkes & Mchugh||$18,000|
|Arkansas Medical Society||$16,800|
|Southwestern Energy Co||$12,200|
- See also: Arkansas State Senate elections, 2002
Elections for the office of Arkansas State Senate consisted of a primary election on May 21, 2002 and a general election on November 5, 2002.
During the 2002 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $2,693,862. The top 10 contributors were:
|2002 Donors, Arkansas State Senate|
|Arkansas Healthcare Association||$45,500|
|Trusty, Sharon Kathleen||$36,500|
|Arkansas Realtors Association||$36,250|
|Odom, Conrad T||$30,465|
|Arkansas Republican Party||$25,500|
- See also: Arkansas State Senate elections, 2000
Elections for the office of Arkansas State Senate consisted of a primary election on May 23, 2000 and a general election on November 7, 2000.
During the 2000 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $1,866,727. The top 10 contributors were:
|2000 Donors, Arkansas State Senate|
|Whitaker, T J||$53,111|
|Whiteside, John N||$39,460|
|Arkansas Republican Party||$25,000|
|Simes, Alvin L||$21,450|
|Young, Dennis Ray||$15,400|
Article 5, Section 4 of the Arkansas Constitution states: No person shall be a Senator or Representative who, at the time of his election, is not a citizen of the United States, nor any one who has not been for two years next preceding his election, a resident of this State, and for one year next preceding his election, a resident of the county or district whence he may be chosen. Senators shall be at least twenty-five years of age, and Representatives at least twenty-one years of age.
| How Vacancies are filled in State Legislatures |
If there is a vacancy in the Senate, the Governor must call for a special election in order to fill the vacancy. The election must be called by the Governor without delay. For all special elections in the Senate, the county that first established the district is responsible for conducting the election.
All special elections must be held on the Second Tuesday of each month. The only other dates an election can be held if the second Tuesday of the month falls on a legal holiday or is in June during an even-numbered year.
- See also: State legislatures with term limits
The Arkansas legislature is one of 15 state legislatures with term limits. Voters enacted the Arkansas Term Limits Initiative in 1992. That initiative said that Arkansas senators are subject to term limits of no more than two four-year terms.
- See also: Redistricting in Arkansas
The Arkansas Board of Apportionment is responsible for redistricting at the state legislative level. This is one of 11 commissions nationwide that are responsible for redistricting.
The Census Bureau releases population data to Arkansas the week of February 7, 2011. Arkansas' population increased by 9.1 percent to 2,926,229 between 2000 and 2010. On July 29, 2011, the Board of Apportionment approved new state legislative maps by a 2-1 vote along party lines. Notably, the town of Alpena (pop. 392) was split up among three Senate districts.
- See also: Partisan composition of state senates
|Party||As of December 2014|
The Lieutenant Governor serves as President of the Senate but only casts a vote in the case of a tie. In the absence of the Lieutenant Governor, the President Pro Tempore presides over the daily session who is elected by full senate caucus and is also the chief leadership position in the majority caucus.
- See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries
As of 2013, members of the Arkansas legislature are paid $15,869 per year. They are also given per diem of $136 per day (in voucher form) plus mileage tied to the federal rate.
When sworn in
Arkansas legislators assume office on the first day of session. This is on the second Monday of January.
The Arkansas Senate has the following ten standing committees:
- Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development Committee, Arkansas State Senate
- Children and Youth Committee, Arkansas State Senate
- City, County and Local Affairs Committee, Arkansas State Senate
- Education Committee, Arkansas State Senate
- Insurance and Commerce Committee, Arkansas State Senate
- Judiciary Committee, Arkansas State Senate
- Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee, Arkansas State Senate
- Revenue and Taxation Committee, Arkansas State Senate
- State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee, Arkansas State Senate
- Transportation, Technology and Legislative Affairs Committee, Arkansas State Senate
It also has two select committees:
- Rules, Resolutions and Memorials Committee, Arkansas State Senate
- Efficiency Committee, Arkansas State Senate
Women in the Senate
Hattie Wyatt Caraway of Arkansas was the first woman to be elected to the Senate. She was appointed in 1931 to fill the vacancy caused by the death of her husband, Senator Thaddeus Caraway. She was then elected in 1932, and again in 1938 and served until 1945. Since then, 38 women have served in the U.S. Senate.
Partisan balance 1992-2013
From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Arkansas State Senate for 21 years while the Republicans were the majority for one year. The Arkansas State Senate is 1 of 16 state senates that was Democratic for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013. The final year of the study depicted a shift in the Arkansas senate which changed to Republican control.
Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.
Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states had divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.
SQLI and partisanship
The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Arkansas state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. Arkansas has never had a Republican trifecta, but did have two Democratic trifectas, between 1992 and 1996 and also between 2007 and 2011. Arkansas has ranked in the bottom-10 of the SQLI ranking for each year of the study. Its highest ranking (41st) occurred in the early 1990s under a Democratic trifecta, while its worst ranking (47th) occurred in 1999 and 2000 under divided government. 2013 was the first year in which Arkansas’s divided government included a Democratic governor and Republican legislature. In all other years of divided government, Arkansas had a Republican governor and a Democratic legislature.
- SQLI average with Democratic trifecta: 43.18
- SQLI average with Republican trifecta: N/A
- SQLI average with divided government: 45.30
- U.S. Census Bureau, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed January 6, 2014
- U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population: 2000," April 2, 2001
- Arkansas State Constitution, pg. 16, accessed December 16, 2013
- Arkansas House website
- The Arkansas Traveler, "Arkansas State Legislature Creates Entrepreneurship Program for College Seniors," accessed May 9, 2014
- akrnasasbusiness.com, "Fiscal Session 2014: A User's Guide to the Arkansas Legislature," February 10, 2014
- arkansasbusiness.com, "Sine Die: Arkansas Lawmakers Formally End Legislative Session," May 17, 2013 (dead link)
- Arkansas online, " Legislative panel rejects pay rise for elected officials," January 16, 2013
- National Conference of State Legislatures "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
- National Association of State Budget Officers "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
- Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
- U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
- Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
- Term limits pg. 16
- Follow the Money: "Arkansas Senate 2010 Campaign Contributions"
- Follow the Money, "Arkansas 2008 Candidates," accessed May 28, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Arkansas 2006 Candidates," accessed May 28, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Arkansas 2004 Candidates," accessed May 28, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Arkansas 2002 Candidates," accessed May 28, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Arkansas 2000 Candidates," accessed May 28, 2013
- Arkansas Legislature, "Arkansas Code - Unannotated," accessed December 16, 2013(Referenced Statutes, 10-2-118 and 10-2-119)
- Arkansas Legislature, "Arkansas Code - Unannotated," accessed December 16, 2013(Referenced Statutes, 10-2-120(a)(1))
- Arkansas Legislature, "Arkansas Code - Unannotated," accessed December 16, 2013(Referenced Statutes, 7-11-105 1 (a)-(c))
- The City Wire, "Census: Arkansas population up 9.1%," December 21, 2010
- Arkansas Senate officers
- NCSL.org, "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
- Arkansas State Senate, History of the Arkansas State Senate
- United States Senate, History of the Arkansas State Senate
State of Arkansas
Little Rock (capital)
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