A day of controversy eventually led to a bill requiring a photo ID to vote being sent to Governor Mike Beebe (D) for consideration.
SB2 by Sen. Bryan King (R-Green Forest) would require Arkansas voters to present a photo ID when they go to the polls.
Senators sent the bill to their Rules Committee, which debated whether or not the bill needed a two-thirds majority to be passed out of the Senate chamber. An argument has been made by some lawmakers that SB2 makes changes to Amendment 51, which has a provision that requires two-thirds majorities to alter it.
The Senate Rules committee, controlled by Democrats with a 9-6 majority, voted 8-6 to inform the Senate that it did require a two-thirds vote for passage of the bill.
When the bill was considered by the full Senate later in the afternoon, Senators decided to ignore the Rules committee decision and apply only a simple majority. The State Senate is controlled by Republicans 21-14.
SB2 passed the Senate after a nearly hour-long debate by a 22-14 margin. Sen. Larry Teague (D-Nashville) was the only Democrat to support the bill.
The voter ID bill, which has cleared the House, now heads to Gov. Beebe for consideration. Beebe can sign the bill into law, veto it, or allow it to go into law without his signature after 5 days.
Beebe spokesman Matt DeCample said the Governor is awaiting an Attorney General’s opinion about the constitutional questions raised by opponents of the bill before making a decision if time allows.