House to change rule on committee appointments; place power with speaker | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

House to change rule on committee appointments; place power with speaker

Posted By on Tue, Jan 10, 2017 at 10:52 AM

click to enlarge HOUSE SPEAKER JEREMY GILLIAM: His committee makes rule change to increase future speakers' power.
  • HOUSE SPEAKER JEREMY GILLIAM: His committee makes rule change to increase future speakers' power.
The House rules were approved in the speaker-appointed Rules Committee this morning and a reader notes one change:
The Speaker of the House of Representatives shall select from each of the four (4) House District Caucuses five (5) members for each “A” standing committee and five (5) members for each “B” standing committee.
The standing committees do most of the legislative lifting — Revenue and Taxation, Education, Public Health and so on. The speaker already names the chairs. In recent times, standing committees were chosen by members of each caucus. That led in the last two sessions to some strategic efforts by minority Democrats to pack targeted committees. In the last round, Democrats managed to place 11 members on the 20-member Revenue and Taxation Committee. But their majority was erased when Committee Chair Joe Jett left the party for the Republicans. Speaker Jeremy Gillam kept Jett on as committee chair.

Some Republicans howled at the packing and Gillam promised that procedures would change to avoid future surprises in a legislature overwhelmingly controlled by Republicans.

A more powerful role for the speaker may not benefit Gillam in the future. He's serving a second term as speaker. But he's widely expected to run for secretary of state in 2018 and the next round of committee appointments will occur that year for the 2019 session.

UPDATE: Note the rule on taking campaign contributions while the legislature is in session. It does NOT prohibit legislators from taking campaign contributions during the shorter fiscal session, which occurs in even-numbered (election) years.

It shall be a violation of the Rules of the House for any member of the House to accept a campaign contribution during the period beginning thirty (30) days before and ending thirty (30) days after any regular session  of the General Assembly. If there is an extended recess of the General Assembly, the period shall end thirty (30) days after the beginning of the recess. It shall also be a violation of the Rules of the House for any member of the House to accept a campaign contribution during any extended session of the General Assembly or during any special session of the General Assembly.
Rules previously prohibited taking money during the fiscal session.

If campaign contribution rules are to be loosened (for incumbent legislators) maybe they could demonstrate some good faith by requiring online reporting of campaign contributions for ready access.

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