You may have followed the drama when some of the members of the Arkansas SHRM State Council (ARSHRM) tried to stop a bad bill from becoming law. During that process, many of us found the legislative process to be quite perplexing and challenging to understand. That’s because the Arkansas legislative process is a complex and multifaceted system. The process involves several steps and procedures designed to ensure that legislation is carefully considered and debated before it is passed into law.
In June, ARSHRM Professional Development Director Tim Orellano and ARSHRM Government Affairs Director Steve Schulte, who had a major role in hindering the passage of Senate Bill 71, will be speaking about the personal experiences they had in stopping the bill from becoming a law and will also be unraveling some of the mysteries about the legislative process.
This blog post summarizes the Arkansas law-making process to help us better understand that process and hopefully help us generate some questions for our guest speakers.
Arkansas Legislative Process
The Arkansas Legislature is composed of two bodies: the Arkansas House of Representatives and the Arkansas Senate.
The House of Representatives is composed of 100 members, while the Senate is composed of 35 members. Both bodies are responsible for considering and passing legislation, but each has its own unique procedures and rules.
The first step in the legislative process is the introduction of a bill. Bills can be introduced by any member of the legislature, and they must be filed with the appropriate clerk. Once a bill is introduced, it is assigned to a committee for further consideration.
As we learned when ARSHRM was trying to stop SB 71 from becoming a law, committees played a crucial role in the Arkansas legislative process. Each bill is assigned to a committee that is responsible for reviewing it and making recommendations to the full House or Senate.
Committees are composed of a subset of legislators who have expertise in the subject matter of the bill. Committees are responsible for studying and reviewing bills before they are voted on by the full legislature. This is where you can make your voice heard and help shape the outcome of the bill.
As a citizen of the state of Arkansas, we have the right to participate in the legislative process and voice our opinion on bills being considered by the state legislature. One way to do this is by entering the debate on a bill while it is in committee, which is what some members of ARSHRM did. By entering the debate on SB 71 while it was in committee, we significantly impacted the outcome of this bill.
After a bill has been reviewed by a committee, it is sent to the full House or Senate for consideration. The bill is read and debated, and amendments may be proposed. If the bill is passed by one body, it is sent to the other body for consideration.
Once a bill has been passed by both the House and Senate, it is sent to the Governor for approval. The Governor can sign the bill into law, veto it, or take no action. If the Governor vetoes the bill, the Legislature can override the veto with a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate.
The Arkansas legislative process is a complex system that involves multiple steps and procedures. The process is designed to ensure that legislation is carefully considered and debated before it is passed into law.
Factors such as the political makeup of the legislature, the priorities of state officials, and public opinion all play a role in shaping the legislative process. By understanding the various stages of the process, we citizens can engage more effectively with our elected representatives and participate in the democratic process.
During our June members' meeting, both Tim and Steve will draw on their experiences in their presentation titled: Myths, Magic & Masterly--Path to Legislative Advocacy. They will be taking questions throughout their presentation.
Never forget the Arkansas state motto: Regnat Populus, Latin for “The People Rule”!
Arkansas State Legislature. “About the Arkansas General Assembly.” Arkansas State Legislature, https://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/assembly/Summary/ArkansasConstitution1874.pdf
Arkansas State Legislature. “Bill Drafting Manual.” Arkansas State Legislature, https://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/assembly/Summary/ArkansasBillDraftingManual.pdf
“Arkansas Legislative Process.” National Conference of State Legislatures, https://www.ncsl.org/research/about-state-legislatures/arkansas-legislative-process.aspx