Members of the legislature met for the final time Wednesday for the biennial fiscal session and looked forward selecting a new Speaker.
After a whirlwind session dominated by the future of the private option, and a last minute override of a veto by Governor Beebe, granting the natural gas and oil industry a $5 million tax break, House Speaker Davy Carter lowered the gavel for the last time.
“The fiscal session of the House of Representatives of the 89th General Assembly is adjourned sine die. The House will convene in 15 minutes for the election of the Speaker-designate,” said Carter.
But as soon as one session ended, planning for the next began. Just after adjourning, house members heard remarks from four legislators, three Republicans and one Democrat, seeking the position of House Speaker-designate.
Elections in November will change the make-up of the legislature and could result in new balances of power, which means winning the position of Speaker-designate, does not guarantee the Speakership next session. Last time around Democrat Darrin Williams was selected only to be supplanted after Republicans gained the majority.
All four nominees spoke about their Christian faith and desire to cooperate with those they disagree with, and all four ended up voting for the private option. With a majority required some speculated the vote could have required multiple ballots, but it only took one.
“Members, Representative Jeremy Gillam received 57 votes and wins the election,” said Carter.
Gillam from Judsonia, just outside of Searcy, spoke with reporters with after his victory and compared himself to Davy Carter.
“We have similar styles in our demeanors. Obviously we have different skill sets and different life experiences. There obviously will be some differences in our approaches but we’ll see how those bear out in the coming months,” said Gillam.
Like Carter, Gillam was the beneficiary of a number of votes from members of the Democratic Party seeking to place a moderate they think they can work with in the position. After elections in November new coalitions could emerge resulting in a different Speaker, but for now Jeremy Gillam holds the reins.