The regular session of the 90th General Assembly came to a close Wednesday but much looms ahead. Legislators from all corners of the state descended on the Capitol one more time, to formally end the regular session, adjourning sine die.
As was the case in 2013, some legislators found themselves the subject of a friendly-ribbing. Representative Jon Eubanks held the dais this year.
“Representative Collins always has a couple of good ideas. His next bill is going to be guns on Capitol grounds so we thought that we’d the Speaker a firearm and an active shooter class,” said Eubanks.
At the end his roast of lawmakers, Eubanks presented House Speaker Jeremy Gillam with a gift. The previous Speaker received a pair of luxury cowboy boots. Not so for Speaker Gillam.
“Happy meals are one of his favorite things,” said Eubanks as he presented Gillam with a happy meal and gift card on the House floor.
While members exhibited a sense of camaraderie on the floor, much remains up in the air as the lawmakers head home. Speaking after adjournment, Gillam said the possibility of a special session looms.
“I think there’s a possibility sometime over the summer depending on timetables of different task forces and committees that are being worked on,” said Gillam.
The Speaker, from White County, says looking at yet-to-be-made recommendations from a newly-formed task force on healthcare and Medicaid expansion – which covers 250,000 low-income Arkansans - is among a multitude of lingering issues.
“I know right now we’re kind of looking at one, when the health care task force is done, but there may be some other things that come up that we’ll have to deal with,” said Gillam.
The scope of another action from the session is still unsettled as well. A law banning city and county governments from enacting certain local anti-discrimination ordinances is yet to go in effect but is generating some backlash.
The city of Little Rock moved forward this week with an ordinance adding some protections based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Gillam declined to say whether that move is an affront to the Legislature’s intent, curtailing local control.
“To be honest with you I have not read all of what each municipality is doing so I don’t think that it would necessarily be proper at this time for me to weigh-in on that,” said Gillam.
In the Senate a last-day rule change was made to allow for the position of Senate President Pro Tem to be filled by the same person for consecutive sessions. Senate President Jonathan Dismang, another Republican in leadership from White County, said he hasn’t yet made up his mind.
Much is left on the plate before January’s Fiscal Session, with a block of interim committee and task force meetings in the offing. But for now, there’s a brief respite.
“With that, seeing no other announcements or questions this caucus of the House of Representatives will be adjourned,” said Gillam. “Have a good week.”