ARKANSAS (KNWA/FOX24) — All members of the Arkansas legislature now have their committee assignments, which will be important to watch during the upcoming legislative session.
The committees on both the House and Senate side range from taxes, to public transportation, to agriculture. These committees are where most of the action happens on bills that are in the process of becoming laws.
Once a legislator files a bill, it has to go through a long process of committee approvals before it has the chance to be voted on. Committees are where the language of the laws is fine-tuned and debated.
If a bill makes it through all the hoops of the committees, it can be sent to the floor for a vote. However, most bills die in committee and don’t make it to a full vote.
All committees will be made up of a majority of Republican members, given the supermajority currently in the legislature. Some committees don’t have any Democrat representation at all, like the Revenue and Taxation committee in both the House and Senate.
The Senate has a rule that limits Democratic representation on all its committees to two members.
Misty Orpin with the nonpartisan nonprofit Common Ground Arkansas said it’s important that people pay attention to what’s going on in the committees.
“Getting on those committees where there are key issues coming up is really important,” she said. “That’s why you saw a lot of people trying to get on the Education Committee and you saw Public Health fill up pretty quickly. Those are some of the more popular committees for people to be on, particularly with these upcoming issues that we know we’re going to see in this session.”
She said a lot of people don’t start reaching out to lawmakers about a bill they don’t like until it’s out of committee and heading to the floor for a vote, which is oftentimes too late to make any further changes to the piece of legislation.
The 2023 legislative session starts on January 9th. Click here to see what bills have already been filed.