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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Arkansas Senate has peaceful transfer of power to Republicans

Posted By on Thu, Nov 8, 2012 at 11:11 AM

THE NEW BOSS: Sen. Michael Lamoureux, elected today to lead the Senate, with Sen.-elect Keith Ingram (right).
  • Arkansas Senate/Twitter
  • THE NEW BOSS: Sen. Michael Lamoureux, elected today to lead the Senate, with Sen.-elect Keith Ingram (right), the minority leader.

GOING QUIETLY: Sen. Larry Teague will give up leadership of Senate to Republican, but get Joint Budget as consolation prize.
  • GOING QUIETLY: Sen. Larry Teague gave up leadership of Senate to Republican, but gets Joint Budget as consolation prize.
The Arkansas Senate convenes its organizational meeting at 12:30 pm. today and it sounds like it won't be attended by the drama expected at tomorrow's House meeting.

Senators will draw for seniority and draw for the split of 2- and 4-year terms that always follows the decennial total Senate election.

Committee assignments, and thus chairmanships (first person to choose a committee generally chooses to be the chairman), are determined by seniority in the Senate and there's no rule change in the hopper to affect that.

There will be a vote for Senate president pro tempore to change chamber leadership from Democratic Sen. Larry Teague of Nashville, who'd earlier said he'd cede the seat to a Republican, Sen. Michael Lamoureux of Russellville, if the chamber majority changed. It did. Republicans will hold 21 of the 35 seats in January. Unlike the House, where two elections aren't fully resolved in what looks like an eventual bare Republican majority, no uncertainty exists about any of the seats in the Senate. Republicans are three seats over the bare majority.

Teague will get a nice sop. He's going to be the Senate co-chair of the Joint Budget Committee as part of the agreed polite changeover. Note that a Republican, Sen. Gilbert Baker, landed that plum under past Democratic leadership.

Lamoureux will get to appoint the new Senate Rules Committee. That group can meet and promulgate news rules that could dramatically alter Senate process at some point, but, for now, nothing of any significance is on file for changes in existing Senate rules.

A suggestion to the new Republican leadership: Let the sun shine in. Move quickly for televising of Senate and Senate committee meetings. Live webcasts are a boon to democracy.

UPDATE: Lamoureux was nominated and elected without opposition on a voice vote.

UPDATE II: As I mentioned earlier, Teague was named to Joint Budget slot. Sen. Paul Bookout, former Senate president pro tem, gets the Senate co-chair slot at Legislative Council, with another Democrat, Linda Chesterfield, as vice chair. Even though the report on Chesterfield as a vice chair was corrected, Lamoureux is still setting a worthy standard for Terry Rice to emulate in the House.

UPDATE III: The majority Republican Party naturally controls virtually all the committees. Noted: 4/4 partisan splits on Public Health (home to abortion legislation and all the Medicaid stuff — one doctor's wife, Cecile Bledsoe, to chair, and another doctor's wife and cutout for the Kochs/ALEC, Missy Irvin, also on board) and Transportation. Golden oldie: When Talk Business wrote on Bledsoe's availing herself of the state's very fine health insurance coverage while opposing federal legislation to expand health care for poor people.

One other exception on committee control: The Billionaires Party controls Education. (snark) Joyce Elliott is vice chair of Education.

But you gotta be joking. Police-and-courts blotter regular Jeremy Hutchinson is chairman of Judiciary? At least it isn't Fireball Holland.

UPDATE IV: Here's the list of draws on two- and four-year terms from Talk Business.

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