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The latest on the Arkansas 92nd General Assembly; public funds update

Jan 25, 2019
The 92nd General Assembly got off to a slow start. The first few days were various ceremonies for the legislators, constitutional officers, and the governor.

The 92nd General Assembly got off to a slow start. The first few days were various ceremonies for the legislators, constitutional officers, and the governor.

House members learned their committee assignments Jan. 14. The committee selection rule was adopted by the 91st General Assembly and effected in the 92nd. In the past, the members knew their committee assignments in November or early December.

The committees have organized even down to the Joint Energy Committee, which doesn't always meet during session, though they did meet in 2017 regarding PACE.

Removing the Bill Filing Deadline

The Arkansas Senate and House approved their 92nd Rules, which included removing the deadline to file any legislation by March 11, 2019. The Joint Rule had previously stated that no bill shall be filed for introduction in either the House of Representatives or the Senate later than the 55 days of each regular session, except for a bill having the consent of two-thirds of the members elected to each house.

Removal of the 55-day deadline could be a good thing for lawmakers because 400 to 500 bills—or more—are usually introduced in attempt to make that deadline, resulting in what's called “shell bills.” Introduction of a shell bill means the actual bill will be completed later by amendment.

Lawmakers noted that removal of the deadline should not extend the legislative session and that each committee's leadership could decide when to stop hearing new bills.

Transforming State Government

The House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee began hearing details on legislation to transform state government. The plan is to reduce the number of agencies that report to the governor, from 42 to 15. Their transformation plan is to file the various 15 bills, let them be heard in committees, then withdraw the bills and compile all 15 into one bill.

Gov. Dale Bumpers (38th governor of Arkansas, 1971–1975) was the last one to overhaul and reorganize Arkansas' government, and changes have gradually made their way back, over the years.

Status of the Public Funds Bill

The Arkansas Credit Union Association's public funds bill has not been filed at this time. Bill sponsors are Sen. Kim Hammer (R-Benton, Senate District 33) and Rep. Karilyn Brown (R-Sherwood, House District 41). The bill will originate in the Senate.

Public deposits are public funds that a treasure of state or local governments or agency can deposit into a financial institution. Currently 25 states have laws that expressly permit credit unions to accept public funds and permit government entities to deposit funds in credit unions. All of Arkansas' surrounding states, except Mississippi, have such laws.

While we don't yet have a bill number, Arkansas Credit Union Association Lobbyist Ron Harrod suggests Arkansas credit unions begin contacting lawmakers now to show support for allowing public funds to be deposited into credit unions.

Arkansas Credit Union Association will send additional talking points to credit unions once a bill number is established.

Who Represents Me?

Ready to contact your lawmaker? Locate contact information for your senators and representatives at the following websites:

For more information, please contact Arkansas Credit Union Association Lobbyist Ron Harrod at rharrod@sbcglobal.net or 501-944-3068.