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Arkansas General Assembly

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Arkansas General Assembly

Seal of Arkansas.svg.png
General Information
Type:   State legislature
Term limits:   2 terms (8 years) in Senate, 3 terms (6 years) in House
2014 session start:   January 10, 2011
Website:   Official Legislature Page
Leadership
Senate President:   Mark Darr, (R)
House Speaker:  Robert Moore (D)
Majority Leader:   Robert Thompson (D) (Senate),
Johnnie Roebuck (D) (House)
Minority leader:   Ruth Whitaker (R) (Senate),
John Burris (R) (House)
Structure
Members:  35 (Senate), 105 (House)
Length of term:   4 years (Senate), 2 years (House)
Authority:   Art 8, Section 3, Arkansas Constitution
Salary:   $15,362/year
Elections
Last Election:  November 2, 2010
17 seats (Senate)
105 seats (House)
Next election:  November 6, 2012
35 seats (Senate)
105 seats (House)
Redistricting:  Arkansas Legislature controls Congressional Redistricting, Board of Apportionment controls state legislative redistricting
The Arkansas General Assembly is the legislative branch of the Arkansas government. The General Assembly consists of an upper branch, the Arkansas State Senate, and a lower branch, the Arkansas House of Representatives. There are 100 representatives and 35 senators. The General Assembly convenes on the second Monday of every other year. A session lasts for 60 days unless the legislature votes to extend it. The governor of Arkansas can issue a "call" for a special session during the interims between regular sessions. In 2010, the General Assembly convened for its Fiscal Session, and it was in session from February 8th to March 4th.[1]

Sessions

Article V of the Arkansas Constitution establishes when the General Assembly 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. [2]

Section 17 of Article V limits the length of sessions to sixty days, unless extended by a two-thirds vote of each legislative house.

2011

See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

In 2011, the General Assembly was in session from January 10 to March 10. The 45 calendar days that the Arkansas Legislature was in session during 2011 is tied with Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico for the shortest legislative session in the country.[3]

2010

See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the General Assembly convened for its Fiscal Session, meeting from February 8th to March 4th.

Role in State Budget

Main article: Arkansas state budget

By the end of November of every other year, the General Assembly of Arkansas receives an biennial budget proposal from the Governor. The biennial budget proposal is for the next two fiscal years, which begin July 1st. The General Assembly then revises this budget over the course of the next couple of months. Sometime between January and April, the General Assembly votes on a budget. For a budget to pass, three-fourths of legislatures must vote in support of it [4]

Despite a nationwide economic downtown, the General Assembly of Arkansas has managed to pass a nearly balanced budget. Fiscal year 2010’s $4.6 billion budget estimated a $75 million deficit. This deficit will be filled by Arkansas’ recently established “rainy day” fund. [5]

Legislators

Salaries

See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2010, members of the Arkansas legislature are paid $15,362 per year. They are also given per diem of $136 per day (in voucher form) plus mileage tied to the federal rate.[6]

The $3,958/month that Arkansas legislators are paid as of 2010 is an increase over the $14,765/year that they were paid during legislative sessions in 2007. The per diem has also increased from 2007 levels of $130 per day.[7]

When sworn in

See also: When state legislators assume office after a general election

Arkansas legislators assume office on the first day of session. This is on the second Monday of January.

Senate

See also: Partisan composition of state senates

The Arkansas State Senate is the upper branch of the Arkansas General Assembly. The Senate consists of 35 members, each representing a district with about 76,383 people.[8] Service in the state legislature is part-time, and most state senators have full-time jobs during the rest of the year. The 35-member Senate consists of eight Republicans and 27 Democrats. There are six women and four African-Americans.

The senators are elected for a four-years term, the Senate being renewed by half every two years. Therefore a Senate lasts two years with the same composition.


Party As of April 2014
     Democratic Party 13
     Republican Party 22
Total 35


House of Representatives

The Arkansas House of Representatives is the lower house of the Arkansas General Assembly. The House is composed of 100 members elected from an equal amount of constituencies across the state. Each district has an average population of 26,734 according to the 2000 federal census.[9] Members are elected to two-year terms and, since the 1993 Amendment 73 to the Arkansas Constitution, limited to three terms (six years). There are 11 African American Representatives.

The Speaker of the House presides over the body and is elected by the membership every two years. His or her duties include the supervision and directing the daily order of business, recognizing members to speak, preserving order in the House, deciding all questions of order and germaneness, certifying all measures passed, assigning committee leadership, and naming members to select committees. In the Speaker's absence, the Speaker Pro Tempore presides.

The Arkansas House of Representatives meets regularly every two years at the Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock.

Party As of April 2014
     Democratic Party 48
     Republican Party 51
     Green Party 1
Total 100


Joint legislative committees

References

External links