The Arkansas Board of Apportionment held its second meeting of the year with a precursor of potential partisanship already surfacing.
The two Democrats on the board – Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and Gov. Mike Beebe – voted to hire Joe Woodson as coordinator. Republican Secretary of State Mark Martin opposed the hire.
In its first meeting, a controversy was stirred when it was disclosed that Martin spent about $70,000 in board monies without approval from the 3-member panel. Martin said that he was following the direction of a holdover employee in the Secretary of State’s office. Martin has agreed to absorb the money in his Secretary of State operations budget.
However, Martin’s budget will be replenished by $60,000 after July 1 for the board for money spent by then-Sec. of State Charlie Daniels. Daniels’ office had spent the money last year largely on computer software licenses that had to be purchased before the Board of Apportionment was able to convene.
In a unanimous vote, all 3 members supported the repayment to Martin.
The board also debated a proposed timeline for redistricting, which includes:
April: Office start-up and preliminary maps
May, June & July: 6-10 public meetings
August: Finalize maps
September 1: Adopt and file final plans
October 1: Plans become effective 30 days after filed with Secretary of State
In the end, the board agreed to expedite the timeline and have maps completed by the end of July.