Arkansas House Backs Process To Fill Vacant U.S. Senate Seat

Feb 6, 2017

A bill headed to the Arkansas Senate would give the governor more long-lasting authority to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat. The Arkansas House approved the measure on Monday, which re-affirms the governor’s power to appoint a temporary, replacement Senator while extending the period of time before an election would be held.

State Representative Matthew Shepherd (R-El Dorado) presented the bill for House Speaker Jeremy Gillam (R-Judsonia). He said the bill instructs that the gubernatorial appointment could be replaced at the next general election, provided the vacancy occurred four months or more before the election. If the vacancy occurred within four months of a general election, a replacement wouldn’t be voted on until the following general election.

State code currently requires the governor to call a special election within 120 days of a vacancy occurring due to death, resignation, ascension to a higher office, or otherwise if no general elections are scheduled within 12 months of the vacancy.