Election Bills Focus Of Committee Meeting

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 123 views 

A bill that would have aligned school board elections with the state’s general elections was defeated in committee, while a bill to allow federal officeholders to run in two races simultaneously was approved Wednesday.

The House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs committee turned down House Bill 1743, sponsored by Rep. James Sorvillo, R-Little Rock.

Under the bill, the school board election, currently set for the third Tuesday in September, would have been moved to the first Tuesday in November.

However, the dates for school millage elections, which could happen at any time, would not have been changed.

Sorvillo told the committee that the change would help increase voter turnout in school board elections. Typically, the elections are among the lowest in percentage of voter turnout in the state.

Sorvillo also said the bill would help create more informed voters.

Several lawmakers on the committee expressed their opposition to the bill, citing financial and logistical concerns.

Rep. Dwight Tosh, R-Jonesboro, asked Sorvillo about the cost of preparing the ballot, with multiple races and jurisdictions on the ballot; as well as the impact the bill would have on county clerks around the state.

Rep. Trevor Drown, R-Dover, said the clerks in his district were “adamantly opposed” to the bill, due to the cost and confusion issues.

But, Rep. Prissy Hickerson, R-Texarkana, countered the change to November would not have an adverse effect on districts.

The committee also approved by voice vote Senate Bill 803, sponsored by Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs.

The bill, which now heads to the House, would allow federal candidates to seek two federal offices.

“A person may be a candidate for President or Vice President of the United States and United States Senate in the same primary and general election,” the bill reads.

At a recent Senate committee hearing, Hester said he had Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., in mind when he drafted the bill, although it would also apply to Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark.

However, Hester has said he did not talk with Cotton about the bill.

House State Agencies Committee chairman, Rep. Nate Bell, R-Mena, said Wednesday that a bill regarding the holidays honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Confederate general Robert E. Lee will be heard at 9 a.m. this Friday.

House Bill 1119 is sponsored by Rep. Fred Love, D-Little Rock.

The bill would seek to honor King with a holiday on the third Monday in January and Lee with a memorial day on the second Friday in January.

A bill on the issue failed in committee earlier in the session with heated debate on both sides.