Fiscal Session 2014: A User's Guide to the Arkansas Legislature

by Andrew DeMillo, Associated Press  on Monday, Feb. 10, 2014 9:50 am  

TWO OUT

A pair of key figures from the 2013 session won't be around this year because of ethics violations. Paul Bookout, a Democrat from Russellville, resigned his Senate seat in August after the state Ethics Commission found he misspent money from a campaign account. Mark Darr, who was the state's Republican lieutentant governor until Feb 1, also quit after ethics officials found fault with his campaign and office spending. He quit under threat of impeachment.

THE CLOCK IS RUNNING

Fiscal sessions, under the state constitution, are shorter than the general sessions that occur in odd-numbered years. Legislators have 30 working days to wrap up, though with a three-fourths vote they can stay up to 45 days.

TAKING PART

It's been said that making laws is a lot like making sausage, something that most people wouldn't want to watch. The process is intriguing, however, and makes for a great spectator sport. Bills can be tracked on the General Assembly website at Arkleg.state.ar.us.

HOW CAN YOU TELL THE PLAYERS WITHOUT A SCORECARD?

Every Arkansas resident is represented by one House member and one Senate member. (There's one House member for every 30,000 people and one Senate member for every 85,000 people.) You can find out the names of your legislators in the Senate and in the House.

HOW CAN I WATCH THE ACTION?

The House broadcasts its proceedings at www.arkansashouse.org but the Senate does not have any feeds. The House and Senate galleries are open to the public, and most meetings also have space for visitors. Parking is at a premium adjacent to the Capitol, but available a short walk away. Committee hearings and agendas are at Arkleg.state.ar.us to make it easier to track issues.

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Capitol-based writers Andrew DeMillo and Christina Huynh are covering this year's legislative session for The Associated Press. Follow them on Twitter at @ademillo and @ckhuynh

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

 

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