The Arkansas State Senate is the upper branch of the Arkansas General Assembly. The Senate consists of 35 members, each representing a district with about 83,000 people. Service in the state legislature is part-time, and many state senators have full-time jobs during the rest of the year. The 35-member Senate consists of twenty-four Republicans and eleven Democrats.
The Arkansas Senate was created and re-created by five separate constitutions, the first of which was ratified on January 30, 1836, and the fifth and current of which was adopted in 1874. The reason for so many constitutions is in part because of the secession of Arkansas from the United States during the time of the American Civil War and the aftermath of the war. The constitution has also changed over time through numerous amendments.
In 1947, the Arkansas Legislative Council committee was created to collect data for legislators and oversee the Bureau of Legislative Research, which is composed of professional, nonpartisan staff to aid in the legislative process. The committee consists of 36 legislators, 16 of which are state senators.
Originally, legislators met biennially. A 2008 ballot proposal approved by voters created annual legislative sessions. In 1992, voters approved term limits, limiting state senators to two four-year terms. In 2014, term limits were extended to 16 years cummulative in either house.
Arkansas state senators are responsible for making and amending the laws of Arkansas in collaboration with the Arkansas House of Representatives and the governor. Senators begin the legislative process by submitting bill requests to the staff of the Bureau of Legislative Research that drafts a bill to conform to the author's intent. Bills are then filed with the Secretary of the Arkansas Senate or an assistant secretary of the Arkansas Senate. The legislative process during the legislative session mirrors that of other state legislatures in the United States. Bills are introduced on First Reading and assigned to a committee, vetted by the committee, undergo Second and Third Readings on the floor of the Senate, go to the opposite house of the legislature, and return or go directly to the governor. The governor has veto power, but two-thirds of the membership of both houses of the legislature can override that veto.
State senators are also responsible for approving the governor's appointments and 16 members of the Arkansas Senate serve on the Arkansas Legislative Council and the Joint Auditing Committee. The Arkansas Legislative Council oversees the Bureau of Legislative Research, which provides professional support services for legislators. It also acts as an organizing committee and members on the council exert a greater degree of influence over the legislative process and outcome.
The senators are usually elected for four-year terms. After the U.S. Census every ten years, all Senate districts are redrawn to ensure that they each have approximately the same number of constituents. After redistricting, every senate position appears on the ballot in the next election. Following this, senators draw lots, and 18 are allotted a two-year term while 17 receive a four-year term. This staggers elections so that only half the body is up for re-election every two years.
Two-year terms drawn by a senator after reapportionment do not count against a senator's service under the term limits amendment, which limits Arkansas state senators to two terms of four years. A senator who draws a two-year term can serve for 10 or even 12 years, depending on when they were elected.
They are also limited to serving no more than two four-year terms.
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
|End of 88th General Assembly (2012)||20||15||35||0|
|Begin 89th General Assembly (2013)||14||21||35||0|
|End of 89th General Assembly (2014)||13||22|
|Begin 90th General Assembly (2015)||11||24||35||0|
|End of 90th General Assembly (2015)|
|Begin 91st General Assembly (2017)||9||26||35||0|
|November 15, 2017||25||34||1|
|November 16, 2017||24||33||2|
|February 9, 2018||23||32||3|
|Latest voting share||28.125%||71.875%|
The President of the Senate is the presiding officer of the Arkansas Senate, but the President Pro Tempore is the presiding officer in the absence of the Senate president. In practice, the President Pro Tempore generally serves as the presiding officer. Other Senate leadership positions include Majority leader, Whip and minority party positions. Committee assignments are determined by seniority, according to the rules of the Senate.
|President/Lieutenant Governor||Tim Griffin||Republican|
|President Pro Tempore of the Senate||Jonathan Dismang||Republican||16|
|Assistant Presidents pro tempore||Eddie Joe Williams||Republican||18|
|Majority Leader||Jim Hendren||Republican||29|
|Majority Whip||Jimmy Hickey Jr.||Republican||28|
|Minority Leader||Keith Ingram||Democratic||24|
|Minority Whip||Bobby Pierce||Democratic||27|
Current committees include:
|District||Name||Party||Residence||First elected||Seat up||Term-limited|
|1||Bart Hester||Rep||Cave Springs||2012||2020||2028|
|5||Bryan King||Rep||Green Forest||2012||2018||2024|
|11||Jimmy Hickey Jr.||Rep||Texarkana||2012||2016||2028|
|14||Bill Sample||Rep||Hot Springs||2010||2018||2020|
|15||David J. Sanders||Rep||Little Rock||2012||2018||2026|
|17||Scott Flippo||Rep||Mountain Home||2014||2018||2030|
|18||Missy Irvin||Rep||Mountain View||2010||2018||2026|
|21||John Cooper||Rep||Jonesboro||2014 (special)||2016||2032|
|24||Keith Ingram||Dem||West Memphis||2012||2018||2024|
|25||Stephanie Flowers||Dem||Pine Bluff||2010||2016||2020|
|27||Trent Garner||Rep||El Dorado||2016||2016||2032|
|30||Linda Chesterfield||Dem||Little Rock||2010||2018||2018|
|31||Joyce Elliott||Dem||Little Rock||2008||2014||2018|
|32||Will Bond||Dem||Little Rock||2016||2016||2020|
|34||Jane English||Rep||North Little Rock||2012||2016||2026|