Senate President Michael Lamoureux (R-Russellville) and House Speaker Davy Carter (R-Cabot) adjourned the 89th General Assembly on Monday (April 1) using an obscure provision of Amendment 82, the state’s superproject law.
While Amendment 82 addresses the procedure for legislative action to utilize bonds for major economic projects, its final section allows for the two heads of the legislative chambers to call for immediate adjournment, a precaution to prevent a vote on the deal from failing.
Section 27 of Amendment 82 reads:
“If a General Assembly passes 5 gun laws, 4 religion-related measures, 3 abortion-related bills, 2 veto overrides and finds a partridge in a pear tree, then the Speaker of the House and President Pro Tempore of the Senate may adjourn the legislature upon mutual agreement.”
“This session disintegrated quickly last week and it was obvious that the superproject, Medicaid, and tax cuts were all headed for failure,” Lamoureux said. “I didn’t want that happening on my watch. Now, we can punt to the Governor and let him fix everything. We always do. His approval rating is 70%.”
Carter agreed and added, “Turkey season is right around the corner and before Bob Ballinger or Sue Scott started shooting at some of the turkeys around here, I thought it would be prudent to dismiss.”
John Correnti, lead investor in the $1.1 billion Big River Steel superproject, seemed calm about the end result. He stroked his cheek and commented, “It’s not personal, it’s just business. I’m looking forward to adding Grant Tennille’s right pinkie to my collection.”
Tennille, director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission which has been leading the Big River project, said, “They did what?! Great, that’s just great!”
Legislative reaction was varied.
Rep. John Burris (R-Harrison) returned a reporter’s phone call after his yoga class.
“I just learned in my new restorative class today to not let curve balls like this get to me. We’ll just all have to find our inner peace and be okay with this. I love you and I love kittens,” Burris said.
Sen. Bryan King (R-Green Forest) had a much different reaction. “I still had a lot of havoc to wreak on Democrats and Republicans. I was even going to screw with the Green Party. I’m pretty pissed. I may go Incredible Hulk or something,” he said.
House Minority Leader Rep. Greg Leding (D-Fayetteville) said the dismissal didn’t bother him. “It’s cool, whatever. I’m from Fayetteville, man. Just means I can go catch the Cate Brothers down on Dickson Street that much sooner.”
Sen. Joyce Elliott (D-Little Rock) speculated that the beginning of the tension may have stemmed from a recent legislative basketball game for charity.
“I hope Carter’s not still mad from that elbow I gave him going for that rebound,” she said. “But dude was in my lane and I wasn’t going to be denied. March Madness, baby!”
Rep. Andrea Lea (R-Russellville) expressed disappointment.
“Once again, a bunch of men making terrible decisions. If us women were in total charge, we’d have been done with this session two months ago. And there would have been nice parting gifts, too,” she said. “And beer.”
Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway) called reporters and asked, “Don’t you want a comment from me? Check my Twitter feed. Check my Facebook page.”
Gov. Mike Beebe (D), reached on the back nine at Augusta, said he’d get organized after receiving a formal statement of adjournment from the two chambers.
“Craziest thing I’ve ever seen in all my years up here at the capitol, except that time Mike Huckabee was planning that hidey-hole escape hatch,” said Beebe.
“I’m kind of disappointed. I was eyeing 27 more vetoes,” he added.
Beebe’s chief of staff, Morril Harriman asked, “Does this mean they’ll go home? Does this mean they’re going away forever? How many more months before this last term is done? When can we start crushing hard drives?”
Harriman was reminded that the Governor could still call a special session to finish the regular session’s business. He was also reminded that a fiscal session in 2014 still must be conducted.
“Ah, s%#t. I’m not ever going to get out of this prison sentence,” he said.
Beebe spokesman Matt DeCample was more upbeat.
“We’ll make the best of it. This legislature has been pretty good for my comedy career,” he said.
“Listen to this one: Rep. Andy Mayberry’s car broke down on the side of the road. The Governor came by and said, ‘What can I do to help?’ Mayberry said, ‘How about a tow?’ And the Governor said, ‘How about a ve-to?’ Thanks. I’ll be here through 2014. Please tip your waiters and waitresses.”
Editor’s note: Happy April Fools Day!