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Thursday, February 20, 2014

House vote on private option could be delayed

Posted By on Thu, Feb 20, 2014 at 1:21 PM

*UPDATE: The House will vote today but it will be a meaningless vote, for reasons explained below.

Democratic Minority Leader Greg Leding told reporters that he believes the votes are there to pass the private option by the needed supermajority, but it might not be possible today because of concerns over procedural issues. 

Currently there are separate bills in the Senate and the House (identical in content). To go to the governor's desk, both chambers must pass one bill. The Senate approved the appropriation with the private option this morning by a 27-8 vote. 

If the House passed its own bill today, one or the other chamber would have to pass the bill from the other chamber. This would be an essentially perfunctory vote, but apparently some lawmakers are unhappy with the idea of having to do the approval vote twice. Some in the House are concerned that if they pass the House bill today, the Senate would refuse to take it up, though Senate President Pro Tem Michael Lamoureux said this morning that wouldn't be an issue. 

So why can't the House just take up the Senate's bill today? The Arkansas constitution does not allow the two chambers to take up the same bill on the same day. So if the House wants to vote on the Senate's bill, it will have to take it up tomorrow (or Monday if the House is not in session tomorrow). 

Again, everyone seems to believe that the votes are there in the House...but a delay would make for an interesting weekend, to say the least. The zombie that is this year's private option debate WILL NOT DIE

House Speaker Davy Carter has been insistent that a vote will happen every single day, so he may proceed regardless. But if Leding is right, it would be a meaningless roll call. 

Check back here for updates...
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