A western Arkansas lawmaker said Tuesday he has left the Republican Party to become an independent.
“I believe I can best represent my district and my values as an independent,” Rep. Nate Bell of Mena said in a text message Tuesday morning to Talk Business and Politics.
Bell, who is not running for re-election in 2016, said he had no other comments about the party switch, which leaves Republicans with a 63-36-1 margin in the 100-member state House.
Republicans also control the state Senate by a 24-11 margin over Democrats.
Bell, a poultry and cattle farmer who works with construction consulting and in the bail bond business according to his House biography, was elected in 2010 in District 20. The district covers parts of Montgomery, Polk and Sevier counties.
He also serves as chairman of the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs committee. The committee was busy in the regular session, which wrapped up in April as well as the special session that ended Thursday (May 28).
During the special session, Bell opposed a bill that would have changed the state’s primary date from May to March 2016.
Bell cited a variety of reasons for his opposition, including increased costs for the primary and that the issue was not thought out.
A Senate version of the bill was approved in the legislature and signed into law Friday (May 29) by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
In the regular session, Bell sponsored House Bill 1113. The bill would have sought to eliminate the dual status of a state holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
The bill failed in committee after several attempts.