On Friday, Speaker of the Arkansas House Robert Moore (D-Arkansas City) scheduled an organizational meeting to choose the chamber’s leader for the 2013 General Assembly.

House members also drew for seniority and selected committee assignments for the upcoming January legislative session.

Rep. Darrin Williams (D-Little Rock) had been previously chosen as Speaker-designate for the next session, but with Republican gains on election night, the GOP appears poised to control the House.

Unofficially, Republicans gained 51 seats to the Democrats 48 and one Green Party winner. The 51st seat, won by Republican John Hutchison over Democrat L.J. Bryant in House District 52, is under a recount. Hutchison has a 44-vote lead.

If the results stand, the GOP will control the chamber, but if it is overturned, neither party will have a majority and negotiations for power sharing would occur.

Arkansas Code allows the Speaker to set a date for a re-election if he is served with a petition signed by 51 or more members claiming the formal election of the Speaker of the 89th General Assembly is in doubt.

“Today (Friday, Nov. 9) I was served with petitions with the needed signatures.  Both Democrats and Republicans signed petitions in an effort to have this matter resolved in a timely and bi-partisan fashion,” said Moore.  He said settlement of the issue will take place next Thursday (Nov. 15) at noon in the House chamber.

The process will apparently first test the chamber’s membership to see if Rep. Williams will receive 51 votes to remain as Speaker-designate. If not, a new election process for other nominees will occur.

Republicans have indicated the Rep. Terry Rice (R-Waldron) will be their choice for Speaker.

During Friday’s organizational meeting, House members were assigned to A and B committees.

A complete list of those committee assignments can be found here.  Chairpersons for the House committees will not be announced until the first day of the January 2013 legislative session by the new Speaker of the House.

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