After a week of orientation last week at the state capitol, 40 freshmen members of the Arkansas House of Representatives have a better handle on what to expect in January when the 90th General Assembly convenes.
They now know how to file bills, conduct committee meetings and House procedures, and even where to find the bathrooms at the central seat of state government.
Two of those freshmen — Reps.-elect Julie Mayberry, R-Hensley, and Clarke Tucker, D-Little Rock — were guests on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics, which airs Monday night at 6 p.m. on KUAR.
"It is far different actually sitting in that seat than watching from the gallery," said, Mayberry, who will be serving the district that her husband, Rep. Andy Mayberry, R-Hensley, represented for four years. "We have a great mix of people from all different backgrounds," she said. "Just walking in the chamber, it’s very humbling. I think if you’re not humbled and impressed knowing what’s happened there over the course of the state’s history, then you probably shouldn’t be there," Tucker said.
Both Mayberry and Tucker agreed that learning more about their peers during orientation week will also have them prepared to rely on their fellow representatives who may have occupational strengths or life experiences that can help them better understand the thousands of bills they’ll have to review.
Tucker says he plans to focus on some of the larger issues that he heard from constituents on the campaign trail, including ethics, the private option and education.
"I talked extensively in my campaign about expanding pre-K, so I’m going to want to work on that issue and at least fund the existing program that we have," said Tucker, who also mentioned prison overcrowding as a high priority.
In addition to the big issues, Mayberry says she also has a more targeted measure on her political agenda.
"I have been working truly for about three years on trying to figure out how we solve a problem of getting more school nurses on our campuses. I’m probably going to propose three different bills to look at that," she said.
Mayberry noted that 123 schools in Arkansas have a nurse working with no running water. Another 53 school nurses do not have a sharps container to throw away a dirty needle. "That number should be zero," Mayberry said.
Watch their full TB&P interview in the video below.