Arkansas General Assembly


The Arkansas General Assembly is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Arkansas. The legislature is a bicameral body composed of the upper house Arkansas Senate with 35 members, and the lower Arkansas House of Representatives with 100 members. All 135 representatives and state senators represent an equal number of constituent districts. 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. The General Assembly meets at the Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock.

Arkansas General Assembly
93rd Arkansas General Assembly
Type
Type
HousesSenate
House of Representatives
History
FoundedSeptember 12, 1836
(184 years ago)
 (1836-09-12)
Preceded byGeneral Assembly of Arkansas Territory
New session started
January 11, 2021 (January 11, 2021)
Leadership
Tim Griffin (R)
since January 13, 2015
President Pro Tempore of the Senate
Jimmy Hickey Jr. (R)
since January 11, 2021
Speaker of the House
Matthew Shepherd (R)
since June 15, 2018
Structure
Seats135 voting members
  • 35 senators
  • 100 representatives
State Senate political groups
  •   Republican (27)
  •   Democratic (7)
  •   Independent (1)
House of Representatives political groups
Elections
State Senate last election
November 3, 2020
(17 seats)
House of Representatives last election
November 3, 2020
State Senate next election
November 8, 2022
(18 seats)
House of Representatives next election
November 8, 2022
Meeting place
Arkansas State Capitol
Little Rock, Arkansas, United States
Website
www.arkleg.state.ar.us
Constitution
Arkansas Constitution of 1874

History


The Arkansas General Assembly is authorized by the Arkansas Constitution, which is the state's fifth constitution. The first was constitution was ratified on January 30, 1836, and the current constitution was adopted in 1874.[1] The constitution has also been amended throughout the state's history since 1874.[1]

Originally, legislators met biennially, but today meet annually.[2]

In 1922, Frances Hunt became the first woman elected to a seat in the Arkansas General Assembly when she was elected to a seat in the Arkansas House of Representatives.[3]

Powers and process


The Arkansas General Assembly is responsible for making and amending the laws of Arkansas. The legislative process is similar to that of other state legislatures in the United States. Bills undergo committee review and three readings on the floor of each house of the legislature. The governor has veto power, but a simple majority of both houses of the legislature can override that veto.[4]

Legislators also select 20 state representatives and 16 state senators to serve on the Arkansas Legislative Council, which oversees the Bureau of Legislative Research and acts as an organizing committee for the legislature.[2]

Terms and term limits


Amendment 73 of the Arkansas Constitution, approved by voters in the 1992 state general elections, set term limits for Representatives and Senators. Representatives were limited to three two-year terms (six years); Senators were limited to two four-year terms (eight years).

Amendment 73 also set term limits for U.S. Senators and Representatives, but this part of the Amendment was found unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton. As Section 4 of the Amendment included a severability clause, the remainder of the amendment remained in force.

This was replaced to a large extent by Amendment 94 in 2014, which extended the total years that could be served to 16 in any combination of House and Senate seats.

The law was changed again in 2020 by a referendum removing the lifetime limit of 16 years in the legislature and switching to 12 consecutive years with the option to return after a four year break.

See also


References


  1. Arkansas General Assembly, Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture (accessed April 28, 2013)
  2. Arkansas Legislative Council, Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture (accessed April 28, 2013)
  3. "Women". The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Arkansas: The Central Arkansas Library System. 2010. Retrieved March 31, 2010.
  4. http://www.nga.org/files/live/sites/NGA/files/pdf/BOSTable3.16.pdf