The future leaders of the Arkansas House and State Senate – Rep. Jeremy Gillam (R-Judsonia) and Sen. Jonathan Dismang (R-Searcy) – say they will be pragmatic in their approach to leading their respective chambers in 2015.
Gillam, 37, was elected Speaker-designate for the 2015 General Assembly last week. Dismang, 34, was chosen to lead the Arkansas State Senate after the 2013 legislative session. The two leaders made a joint appearance on Sunday’s TV edition of Talk Business & Politics, which airs at 9 a.m. on KATV Channel 7.
“I’m a firm believer in proportionate representation,” Gillam said about how he would make committee assignments if Republicans and Democrats maintain their close majority-minority numbers. “At this point, it doesn’t look like we’re going to be re-inventing the wheel on that.”
Republicans hold 51 seats in the Arkansas House, while Democrats number 48 representatives.
Despite a sizable majority for Republicans in the Senate, Dismang said he’s hoping current Joint Budget Committee chairman Larry Teague (D-Nashville) will continue in his fiscal oversight role.
“Sen. Teague has done a great job for Sen. Lamoureux in this current session. We haven’t visited yet on what he would like to do moving forward, but that would probably be one of the more prominent positions that we’d have some influence on,” Dismang said.
Despite a closely divided House and the possibility that Democrats could re-take control of the majority, Gillam said he won’t campaign against incumbents on the other side of the political aisle.
“I’m not going to be out campaigning against my colleagues,” he said. “We’ve got several open seats and some primaries that are just Republican primaries, so I think there are plenty of things to keep me busy in planning the House and getting ready and moving forward in the next session that I won’t have to be out campaigning against my fellow colleagues.”
Dismang said that he’s open-minded about bringing live-streaming to the State Senate, but he has reservations about the potential cost of adding the service to the 35-member chamber’s proceedings.
“I think it’s something we’ll discuss, but it’s something we’ll discuss as a whole. It would not be my decision solely to move forward either way,” he said. “In some ways, it is something I’m supportive of. I’d like to have that broadcast and have that representation out there. But again, the Senate is a little bit different body. For instance, we don’t use microphones on the Senate floor. That would have to change if we’re going to be recording or videoing what we do.”
Both leaders said they expected the private option to be a major issue of discussion in the 2015 session, and that data collected between now and next year will drive decision-making on future public policy related to the health insurance program.
Watch their full interview in the video below, including an extended version beyond Sunday’s TV broadcast.