House Rules Committee

Jan. 11, 2023 


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  • HR 1001: House rules for this session
  • Speaker election change: Roll call vote

  • Rep Vaught: …to the Rules Committee. It’s an honor to be your chair this time around. I’m going to enjoy working with each and every one of y’all. If you’ll take a minute, let’s just introduce ourselves real quick. There’s some freshmen in here who may not know– the lobbyists may not know, and I want to give them a chance to get to know them. So if we’ll just start here with Representative Lane Jean and go around, that would be great. Now we can hear you.


    Rep Jean: All right. I’m in my seventh term and I think my fifth term on the Rules Committee. Thank you.


    Rep Eubanks: Jon Eubanks, District 46, which is all of Logan County, South Franklin County, a small portion of South Sebastian County, and a small portion of South Johnson County. My seventh term and my fifth term on this committee.


    Rep Magie: Ready. Steve Magie, District 56, Conway. Sixth term. I think I’ve been on this committee three terms. Glad to be back.


    Rep Dalby: I’m Carol Dalby, District 100, Texarkana. I came on this committee, my freshman year, to fill out a term, and have served on it ever since. And I’m starting my fourth term. So I guess I’ve been on the committee three and a half terms, and I’m looking forward to it again. Thank you, madam chair.


    Rep Moore: My name is Jeremiah Moore. I represent District 61. It covers the southeast third of Jackson County, all of Woodruff County, eastern third of Prairie County, a little over half of Monroe County, and the most of Arkansas County. This is my first term in the legislature, and I’m honored to be here.


    Rep Duffield: Matt Duffield, District 53, Russellville. Honored to be a part of this committee. Looking forward to working for the people of my district and the great state of Arkansas. If you need anything, reach out to me anytime. Thank you.


    Rep Cavenaugh: Representative Fran Cavenaugh serving District 30 now, which is part of Lawrence, Greene, and Craighead counties. This is my fourth term and my first time on Rules.


    Rep Nicks: Milton Nicks, District 35, which includes most of Crittenden county. In my fifth term, and my first term here on this committee. Thank you.


    Rep L Fite: Lanny Fite, District 83, Saline County. I go from Hot Springs Village all the way back to Bryant. This is my fifth term, and my third Rules Committee. Thank you.


    Rep K Ferguson: My name is Ken Ferguson, District 64, serving parts of Jefferson, Lincoln, and Desha County. I’m in my fifth term, and this is my second term on this committee.


    Rep Tosh: Chair, my name is Dwight Tosh. I’m starting my fifth term. I represent District 38, which is the southern part of Craighead County, quite a bit of Poinsett County and also part of Jackson County. Like I said, this is my fifth term. This will be my fourth term on the Rules, and it’s a great honor for me to serve.


    Rep Holcomb: Okay. Thank you, madam chair. I’m Mike Holcomb. I serve District 93, which is Jefferson, Lincoln, Cleveland,  and Drew counties. I’m in my sixth term. I’m a former Jefferson County Judge and retired educator. Thank you.


    Rep Pearce: Shad Pearce, District 40, which encompasses quite a bit of Batesville, and it’s a little bit on the south end of– be the south end of White and a little bit of Cleveland. This is my first term. I am very honored to be here. And I’m ready to get going. Thank you.


    Rep Vaught: And I’m Representative DeAnn Vaught, and I do Southwest Corner. It’s District 87 now. I’m trying to still get used to that new number. And this is my fifth time to be on this committee, and my first time to chair. And I’m excited to be the chair of this committee and look forward to working with all of y’all. And with that, I will recognize Representative Les Eaves on behalf of the speaker to present House Resolution 1001. State your name for the record and you might begin.


    HR 1001: House Rules for this session

    Rep Eaves: Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. My name is Representative Les Eaves, and it feels a little bit weird to be on this side of the table. What I have before you is House Resolution 1001. This would be the rules that we would, hopefully, adopt for the 94th General Assembly. There’s not a whole lot of changes. Some of the more substantial changes are based on laws we passed in, I believe, the fiscal session and then the session before that. And with your permission, I’d like to have our parliamentarian kind of go through the details of the resolution.


    Rep Vaught: You’re recognized, Mr. Parliamentarian. Please state your name for the record.


    Parliamentarian: Thank you, Madam Chair. I’m Buddy Johnson. I’m Parliamentarian of the House of Representatives and have been so for 10 years now. So it’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you, members of the committee, for having me. I wanted just to preface that the Speaker developed House Resolution 1001 and heard remarks from members leading up to this session beginning and incorporated some of those, at least one of them, in the final draft of the rules. And I would like to go over the proposal with you today. So beginning on page 16, you’ll notice there are a number of formatting changes. And they’re not substantive. They’re just simply to make the rules more consistent in outline, like of 38M1, etc. That’s just a formatting change. That begins on 16, and those kind of changes will be throughout the document. The substantive changes begin on page 17, and continue throughout the document, both in the body of the rules and in the committee rules addendum to the House rules. These reflect changes, as Representative Eaves said, that were adopted since our previous regular session began. They add some of the legislation dealing with state health benefit plans, and with higher education scholarships, added elements of rules in their adoption. The health benefit legislation was Act 112 of the 2022 Fiscal Session, and also House Concurrent Resolution 1002 of the 2022 Fiscal Session.


    Fiscal impact statements

    Parliamentarian: The legislation adopted some of the bill filing deadline and also the requirement for fiscal impact statement. And those rules related, and we thought it appropriate to include them in the rules resolution to be consistent with other requirements such as that. The health benefits must be filed within the first 15 days of the session. It restricts the introduction of such legislation during fiscal sessions and extraordinary sessions, and it requires fiscal impact statements. The higher education scholarship portion, was part of Act 636 of the 2021 regular session. So as you can see, that bill passed well into the session, and it was not incorporated in either the Joint rules or the House rules. But they are being rolled into the draft of the rules for the 94th General Assembly. It requires that higher education scholarship legislation be introduced within the first– or by the end of the 31st day of the session. It restricts the introduction during fiscal and special sessions, and it requires fiscal impact statements. So throughout these rules, you will see references to both type legislation. And, again, this isn’t something that appeared out of nowhere. This is consistent with legislation that has already been adopted by the General Assembly. On page 19, you’ll see that the health benefit plan and scholarship language is incorporated into the requirement for fiscal impact statements and legislation. Before this, there were five categories of bills that required fiscal impact statements, and those were municipalities, counties, education K through 12, corrections, and lottery. So now we have two more type bills that require fiscal impact statements under this. Well, they’re already required under law. This would make them part of the rules. On page 25 is another substantive change. And it’s probably so minor you may not have realized this rule is even in here.


    Amendment calendar

    Parliamentarian: A number of years ago, the House adopted a rule that created a calendar for members to amend their own bills. And it creates an administrative process for you to amend your bills without having to do so on the floor of the House when we’re in session. Before then, a big part of the legislative day would be taken up with members coming down to the floor and saying, my bill, my amendment, appreciate a good vote, and then the House voting on it. And if there were 20 of those, the people in the galleries would just be scratching their heads saying, “What’s going on here?” So, anyway, the members own calendar was created to streamline that process but retain the requirement that all amendments to any bill have to be approved by the whole House. And so this is done. And if you have an objection to something that’s on that calendar, you’re certainly welcome to object to it, and then it would come before the entire body. The rule was that that calendar had to be developed and put on your desk by 4:30 PM each day. And most of the time that wasn’t an issue, but it came an issue on occasion if a member came into the clerk’s office wanting to do a member’s own amendment, and if it was after 4:30, they were out of luck. It really came an issue during the COVID session because so many of the committees met in the afternoons. And if a bill came out of committee do pass as amended, the sponsor of that bill was unable to get it on the members own calendar for the next day. And it just added a day to that person’s process of trying to get their bill passed. This substantive change on page 25– it’s in row 47Q – eliminates the 4:30 PM deadline. And that’s all it does. You may note that there is no similar deadline for our red calendar, our main calendar on the House floor, nor for the yellow budget calendar. Those calendars can be put out at any time. This was the only one that had a firm deadline for its distribution, and this rule change eliminates that deadline.


    Parliamentarian: On page 31, there’s a very slight substantive change about committee memberships, and it talks about the instance where a member may pass away, resign, or be– the language had been impeached, and it came to our attention that that’s really not an accurate description of the status of a member because members of the House aren’t impeached, but they may be expelled. So we changed the word impeachment to expulsion. So that’s all that does. On page 45 is another substantive change, but it’s one that’s already been implemented through the definition of the House Caucus Districts that have 25 House Districts in each Caucus District. And those numbers were identified, and when we had our organizational meeting after election day to draw for seniority and choose committees, you adopted this list. This change in the rules merely plugs those lists into the permanent House rules, where they will remain in place until the next census is done 10 years from now. And most of us, probably, won’t be around anymore. So, anyway, that’s what that does.


    Committee agenda order

    Parliamentarian: And that’s in row number 82. On page 57 of HR 1001– and here we’re in the committee rule addendum to the House rules, section 19– this is probably the most substantive and far-reaching rule change the speaker is proposing. This change will return the process of committee agendas back to the method used before the COVID session. During the COVID session, a number of emergency rules were implemented that took into consideration some of the constraints that were in place for the legislative committee meetings with social distancing and this and that. That rule change in part allowed committee chairs to specify the agendas for their given meetings. But the permanent rules as written also had that incorporated in it. And then, to me, this may have been an example of fixing something that wasn’t broken. And members approached the speaker about the interest of returning to the old method or the method that had been used for a couple of decades of committee agendas being set really chronologically by when a bill was introduced. A bill is introduced, read twice, assigned to a committee, it automatically goes on a committee agenda in the order it’s read. And so that list becomes the agenda of the committee. And until the COVID session, that’s the way it had been. And this rule change takes it back to that process where every bill– that’s how the committee agendas are appeared. And then it’s up to the committee to manage each list of bills. But every bill assigned to that committee appears on that list. That’s how the agenda is formed, and it just reverts to the pre-COVID session committee agenda process. So, Madam Chair, that covers all of the changes encompassed in HR 1001, and I’ll be happy to answer any questions.


    Rep Vaught: Are there any questions? It looks like you did a good job. Would you like to– would you like to close for your resolution, sir?


    Rep Eaves: Yes, ma’am. I’m closed for my resolution. I’d appreciate a good vote.


    Rep Vaught: All right. You may be excused for a few minutes. Thank you, sir.  Yeah. Will you please pass out the amendments that are here, please? There’s four of them. Thank you. Sorry. We’ve got a little bit of passing out to do. Y’all hang with us. Okay. So there’s three amendments from representative Hodges and one from Representative Lundstrum. And Representative Hodges is signing his, I believe, or signed his. Okay. And Representative Hodges has said he’s withdrawing his for right now. Right, Representative Hodges? So we will not be voting on that one today, but we will be listening to Representative Lundstrum’s. Thank you, Representative Hodges, for being here. Representative Lundstrum, you’re recognized to present your amendment. Introduce yourself for the record. Sorry.


    Speaker election change: Roll call vote

    Rep Lundstrum: Thank you, Madam Chairman. This is just for discussion. I realize we’re not taking any motions today. This is my fifth term, and every time we’ve come across an election, we’ve said, “Well, we’ll wait”– on the speaker’s election, “We’ll wait. Next term we’ll have a rule that says we’ll do a roll call vote. Next term, we’ll do a rule. We’ll discuss it. Next time we’ll discuss it. We’ll put it in the rules.” This simply, actually, puts it in the rules as a roll call vote. And it’s pretty simple. It just says a voice vote by roll call. That’s the only change. It’s pretty clear. While we don’t have an election, while it’s off in the future, this adds that transparency. So I’d like to put that before the Rules Committee to be added to our rules.


    Rep Vaught: And is that for every committee representative?


    Rep Lundstrum: No. This is only for the speaker’s race.


    Rep Vaught: Just for the speaker’s race. Thank you. I just wanted you to make sure it was clarified. Are there any questions, Representative Lane Jean? You’re recognized.


    Rep Jean: Thank you, ma’am. Representative Lundstrum, I’ve been pushing for this. And I think our former colleague, Representative Davis, helped pass these rules the last time. And I just never could get enough support, and I do agree that we should. And I don’t care about roll call. Why did you leave out just electronic vote on the board?


    Rep Lundstrum: There just wasn’t a clear way we could do person A and person B, or we could just do a straight roll call. I’m open to any change. I just thought, before we had the emotional charge of a race, we should put it in our rules and make it–


    Rep Jean: For the 95th, I’m agreeing with you on the 95th. We need to make it a public vote. And I appreciate you bringing this forward.


    Rep Lundstrum: And I thought this was the simple and cleanest way to do it.


    Rep Jean: Okay, thank you.


    Rep Vaught: Representative Eubanks, you’re recognized.


    Rep Eubanks: Thank you, Madam Chair. I don’t know that I have a particular problem with this because I always usually make my position clear early on, and everybody knows what my vote is going to be. I am afraid of a situation where by it being a public vote it might subject people to some sort of harassment. And that’s what I’m concerned about. I think that’s why the votes that we cast in our regular elections are secret. It’s to prevent people from ever having any type of retribution of any sort. But like I said, I don’t necessarily have a problem for myself because I always make it perfectly clear where I stand, so.


    Rep Lundstrum: I felt that way at first, but I’ve learned around here there aren’t many secrets. The walls have ears. The floors have ears. And there aren’t many secrets. We take votes every day that are difficult. Sometimes we have to vote against other people’s bills that we like parts of the bills and parts of the bills we don’t. We’ve had to put on our big-girl pants  and big-boy pants and go and then have the next bill and then agree to disagree and then go have lunch with each other. So in the effort to have transparency, we put our votes on the board everyday. I think this is just one more step towards more transparency.


    Rep Eubanks: Okay. Thank you.


    Rep Vaught: Are there any other questions? I appreciate your amendment. I appreciate you– oh, wait. Sorry. I didn’t see you, Representative Ferguson. I’m so sorry.


    Rep K Ferguson: It’s all right. Thank you, Madam Chair. One quick question, Representative Lundstrum. In your amendment, did you take into consideration, out of 100 members voting, if you had 20 members outstanding not to vote and only have 80 members voting, and the speaker does not receive a 50-plus vote, does your amendment take in consideration of that, or how would that be handled?


    Rep Lundstrum: If someone chooses not to cast their vote, that’s their choice. I mean, that’s their vote to cast or not to cast. If they’re in the room, and they choose not to vote, that is still their vote they choose not to cast.


    Rep K Ferguson: One more quick question, Madam Chair. I guess what I’m asking, if you don’t have– let’s say, 20 people decided not to vote, and it’s 40/40. So are you saying that the speaker could be elected by plurality? Does your amendment take in effect of that, or how would that be handled?


    Rep Lundstrum: The only thing I took into consideration was if someone was absent due to illness, that they could do a absentee ballot, but that would still be read out. I can’t imagine someone taking such a precious thing as their vote for speaker, and then choosing not to vote. But that is still their choice. We have that. We have that. You might have to have a second round. But that’s okay.


    Rep K Ferguson: Okay. All right. Thank you.


    Rep Vaught: Representative Eubanks, you’re recognized.


    Rep Eubanks: Thank you, Madam Chair. It was a question for the Parliamentarian. The rules, is it 50-plus one, or is it a majority of the quorum?


    Parliamentarian: Mr. Eubanks, it’s 51.


    Rep Eubanks: Okay, Thank you.


    Parliamentarian: And the portion of the House rules that this would amend has provisions for a runoff. If none of the candidates receive the majority vote, the top two vote getters, there would be another ballot on that.


    Rep K Ferguson: So we would continue to have ballot after ballot until the speaker is elected then? I guess that’s what my–.


    Parliamentarian: In theory, yes. I mean, it’s never been in practice, but that’s the idea.


    Rep K Ferguson: Okay. Thank you.


    Rep Vaught: Any other questions? Seeing no other questions, would you like to close?


    Rep Lundstrum: Yes, ma’am. It’s a privilege to serve here. It’s a privilege to vote. These rules are how we govern this body and how we avoid chaos. This is a privilege to get to vote for speaker. And I think it’s important that people know and see our votes and see us cast our votes. And transparency is the most important thing. It stops gossip, and it breeds trust from the people back home when they see us cast our votes. And I would beg you to put these in the rules now, so that it’s clear when the time comes and we get to cast that vote for speaker, it’s in the rules. Thank you. And I would ask for a good vote when the time comes. Thank you.


    Rep Vaught: Okay. What’s the will of the committee?


    Rep Jean: It was my opinion we not have a vote on the amendments. But I support this. And as we’ve done every session, we will have a rules package before this session is over to deal with the 95th. And I’m supporting this in that package as the session gets towards an end. And I think that’s the proper time to do this. That’s Lane Jean’s opinion.


    Rep Vaught: Thank you.


    Rep Lundstrum: If I may ask a question, when will that time be to submit those rules?


    Rep Jean: I mean, you could submit them now, but I think there’s going to be a package of what we do for the 95th General Assembly. And we normally do that in the March, April timeframe and adopt it before we gavel out. So it’ll be done this session.


    Rep Lundstrum: Okay. Any other questions, madam chairman, for me?


    Rep Vaught: Any other comments?


    Rep Vaught: Thank you for bringing this. It’s a great amendment, and I look forward to you bringing it back.


    Rep Lundstrum: Thank you, Madam Chairman.


    Rep Vaught: Representative Eaves, you’re recognized to close for your resolution.


    Rep Eaves: Well, based on Buddy’s details, I am closed.


    HR 1001: Vote

    Rep Vaught: What’s the will of the committee?  We have a motion to adopt. Do we have a second? Second. All in favor say aye. Any opposed? Your resolution has passed.  And we are adjourned.