Rep. Shepherd re-elected to third term as Speaker; fiscal session officially ends

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 477 views 

Arkansas lawmakers officially ended their fiscal session – a motion known as “sine die” – bringing to a close the 93rd General Assembly’s even-numbered year business.

At the conclusion of the session, the House of Representatives selected Rep. Matthew Shepherd, R-El Dorado, to once again lead the chamber in the 94th General Assembly that will open in January 2023. It will be Shepherd’s third term as speaker.

Shepherd’s only opponent, Rep. Austin McCollum, R-Bentonville, withdrew his candidacy shortly before the vote.

Shepherd, an attorney, told members that bipartisan cooperation is still necessary despite Republicans having a supermajority of seats in the 100-member body.

“In an era of hyper-partisanship, I believe that we still, while being members of our respective political parties, that we still can maintain a House focused not on what divides us, but on what unites us for the betterment of the citizens of Arkansas,” Shepherd said. “I believe we’ve done a good job to this point, but that is something that we cannot take for granted but must continually work on and continually be dedicated to.”

In the just-ended fiscal session, lawmakers passed a $6 billion budget that is still expected to produce a nearly $600 million budget surplus.

They dedicated more funding to K-12 and higher education, law enforcement and prisons, and into the state’s Medicaid program.

Editor’s note: Michael Hibblen with content partner KUAR 89 News contributed to this report.