House of Representatives
March 15, 2022
Parliamentarian I call the House to order. In accordance with House Rule 10, we are convened to elect the speaker designate for the 94th General Assembly. Before we recite the Pledge of Allegiance today, I invite members, staff, press and guests in the galleries to stand and join me in a moment of silent prayer and reflection to honor the life of Little Rock journalist and filmmaker Brent Renaud. As many of you know, Mr. Renaud was on assignment in Ukraine when he was shot and killed this past weekend. Let us now honor his legacy and his contributions to our state and to our country by observing this moment of silent prayer and reflection, and then to remain standing to be led in the Pledge of Allegiance by Representative Jean. Please join me in a moment of silent prayer. Thank you.
[Pledge of Allegiance]
Parliamentarian Members, please indicate your presence by pushing your yellow button. Prepare the machine, Mr. Clerk. Cast up the ballot, Mr. Clerk. With 94 present, the chair sees a quorum. Are there any requests for leave? Rep. McCullough, for what purpose?
Parliamentarian You’re recognized.
McCullough Leave for Representative Garner.
Parliamentarian Is leave granted for Representative Garner? Representative Ken Ferguson, for what purpose?
K Ferguson Leave.
Parliamentarian You’re recognized. Is leave granted for Representative David Whitaker? Leave is granted. Representative Jett, for what purpose?
Jett Leave. Leave for Representative Ferguson.
Parliamentarian Is leave granted for Representative Ferguson? Leave is granted. Representative Warren, for what purpose? You’re recognized.
Warren Leave for Representative Craig Christensen.
Parliamentarian Is leave granted for Representative Christianson? Leave is granted. Representative Love, for what purpose?
Parliamentarian You’re recognized.
Love Leave for Representative Murdoch.
Parliamentarian Is leave granted for Representative Murdoch? Representative McCollum, for what purpose?
McCollum Point of personal privilege.
Parliamentarian You’re recognized.
McCollum Good afternoon, colleagues. This morning, as Republican caucus leader, I met with the majority caucus and I found out how the best way to lead them in this moment would be. And the best way to lead them in this moment is to respectfully withdraw my nomination for speaker designee. And so I would like to ask you all to accept that request in this moment, which is to withdraw my nomination for speaker designee. And finally, I just want to say, and I truly believe this moving forward, I do see this as a moment to unify, to work together in good grace and good faith as we work together for the people’s business of Arkansas. Thank you.
Parliamentarian Representative Wing, for what purpose?
Wing Mr. Speaker, in light of this development– or Mr. Chairman– I move that the House of Representatives suspend the formal election process as provided for in House Rule 10 A. And that we as a body elect by voice vote the honorable Matthew J. Shepherd as speaker designate for the 94th Arkansas General Assembly.
Parliamentarian The motion to suspend the formal election process in House Rule 10A is a proper motion. It is not debatable. All in favor of the motion to suspend the rules say aye. Opposed nay. The motion carries. Representative Wing, you’re recognized.
Wing I now move that Speaker Matthew J. Shepherd be elected speaker designate for the 94th Arkansas General Assembly.
Parliamentarian That’s a proper motion. The question before the House is the election of Matthew J. Shepherd as speaker designate of the 94th General Assembly. All in favor say aye. Opposed say nay. The ayes have it. The motion is adopted. Let the record reflect that motion received more than 51 votes. Mr. Speaker, you’re recognized.
Shepherd Mr. Chairman, members of the House, it’s an honor to once again stand before you today. I’m honored and humbled by the trust and confidence that you have once again shown in me in electing me to serve as speaker of the House for the upcoming 94th General Assembly. As I, as I always do, I’d like to thank my family. I’d like to thank my wife, Alie, back home in El Dorado — she probably is not watching this; she’s teaching kindergarten — and my kids Eli, Mary Kate and Libby, along with my parents and other family members for their support and their sacrifice that they’ve given me that has allowed me to serve here with you in Little Rock. And as I always say, I recognize that each one of you have friends and family members that pay a similar price and make similar sacrifices so that we can serve. I’d like to thank the House staff for their tireless work and dedication over this past fiscal session and the dedication and work that they provide the House each and every day. Finally, I’d like to thank you once again for the trust and confidence that you’ve shown in me in the past and now again as your speaker. And I further thank each one of you who has worked together with me during the past term for the betterment of our state. In preparing for my remarks today, just as I did two years ago, I looked back at what I stated when I first ran for speaker, when I was first elected speaker in 2018. And I review the values that at the time I hoped to instill in the House. You know, I believe it’s always helpful and useful to go back and reevaluate and look at what were, what were the values that I hoped to bring to the House and see, are we accomplishing those things? First, I wanted us to be a body that displayed great character. To the best of my ability, and God willing, I’ve tried to the best of my ability to, to be a man of my word, to be truthful, to conduct myself in a manner that is consistent with my faith and the office that I hold. And I believe it’s important. And it was even more important in 2018 because as many of you know, the headlines at that time were riddled with the misdeeds of some of our former members. But I’m proud of the character that the House and each of its members has showed as we have worked over the past number of years. Second, I wanted the House to display civility and professionalism, understanding that we’re going to disagree from time to time. Third, I want to, wanted to prioritize open lines of communication, and I wanted to make sure that we did our– conducted our business efficiently, that we would take the time to do the people’s business that was necessary, that we wouldn’t rush, but we would likewise not unnecessarily prolong the work either. I was hopeful that we could work hard to find consensus where it can be found and that when we couldn’t and when we disagreed that we could do so in a civil and professional manner. And finally, I wanted to strive to do that which is in the best interest of the people of Arkansas. And in my opinion, I submit to you today that we as a house have exhibited each of those values. It hasn’t been easy, but I believe that we have. But we must continue to work, to work in the best interests of the people of the House. And let me just say that as we’ve exhibited those values, we didn’t just do so in some abstract way. I believe we’ve done so in a very tangible way. Whether it was completing a successful regular session in which many members were able to pass legislation, or it was expanding live streaming to make sure that the vast majority of our committees are now available and archived online, or whether it’s the fact that as speaker and with your help and support, we’ve cut our budget. Four years ago for FY 20, we cut it by 15 percent. Then we cut it for 10 percent. We cut it again for another 10 percent. And then we cut it just the other day another 5 percent. We’ve broadened the appointments and the assignments among the members of the House. Prior to Covid, we actually had reduced our overall per diem. And certainly, I’m hopeful that we can, as we move out of Covid, that we’re able to get back to a truly efficient operation of the House. And then we’ve operated– we’ve had two successful legislative sessions offsite, but then also a regular session right here in the Capitol in the midst of a pandemic. We’ve also made the RSA process as transparent as it’s ever been in the history of the House. And so those are accomplishments. They’re not just accomplishments for me, they’re accomplishments for each one of you. And I believe those are accomplishments that we can be very proud of. They are accomplishments that we can talk to our constituents and to the people of Arkansas across the four corners of our state. And while we’ve accomplished much in the past, there’s still much more to be done, both as we finish the 93rd General Assembly and as we look forward to the 94th. In that regard, I look forward to working with each of you, with the House, with the entire Legislature as the state emerges from COVID, as we prepare for a new administration. And, as I touched on earlier, I look forward to hopefully leading us back to a point where we operate in a truly efficient manner just as we were prior to the COVID pandemic. And then finally, in an era of hyper-partisanship, I believe that we still, while being members of our respective political parties, that we still can maintain a House focused not on what divides us, but on what unites us for the betterment of the citizens of Arkansas. I believe we’ve done a good job to this point. But that is something that we cannot take for granted but must continually work on and continually be dedicated to. In closing, let me just say I’m always leery of individuals who wax about their love of an institution. But I must say that over my time as speaker of the House, that I truly have come to love the House of Representatives and what it represents for the people of Arkansas. I love the camaraderie. I love the debate. I even love the challenges that are presented. Most of the time. Most of the time. But it is because of my love of the House and my belief in the House and the pride of knowing that we have done things the right way that I can confidently stand here today, and as I have stated throughout my time as speaker, state once again that I look forward to the opportunity to continue to serve and that I do truly stand ready to work with all who are willing so that we may continue the work in the best interest of those who matter most, the people of Arkansas. Thank you once again for your support. May God bless this House, and may God bless the great state of Arkansas.
Parliamentarian There being no further business, this caucus of the Arkansas House of Representatives is adjourned.