State Representative Report from Sheilla LampkinJanuary 31st, 2011 by Sheilla Lampkin
Wow! What an experience! What an event-filled two weeks! The atmosphere at the Capitol is always fast-paced and electrically charged! Yet it is also warm and friendly.
I can honestly say that some of the sweetest, kindest, most helpful and friendliest people I have ever known work behind the scenes at the House of Representatives, including the ladies and the “red coats” who man the House entrances. Everyone has been so pleasant and helpful going out of their way to be courteous and accommodating. They really are a super group from the parliamentarian, to the “chief of staff”, to the janitorial crew and everyone between them.
January 10 was the day the legislators were sworn in. Needless to say, the snowstorm made for adventuresome trips to Little Rock for all of us. Nearly all 100 House members made it even though that Monday morning was cold, crisp, clear and icy!
Though I am seldom at a loss for words, the “swearing-in” ceremony left me speechless. It was an inspiring and awesome moment for me. I felt honored to be there serving you, sobered by the occasion and yet ‘tickled pink to be there at that moment. I also felt honored that our own circuit judge Bynum Gibson administered the oath of office to all of the House members. Beyond that I really have insufficient words to truly describe the event.
The day was largely ceremonial with another southeast Arkansas native, Robert Moore, Jr., also sworn in as Speaker of the House for this 88th Legislative Session. This should bode well for southeast Arkansas. Speaker Moore addressed the group and also announced chairs and vice chairs of several select House committees during the opening proceedings.
Tuesday the House and Senate met jointly for the “swearing in” of the state’s constitutional officers, culminating in the swearing in of Governor Mike Beebe for his second term. Governor Beebe then gave his State of the State address, stressing his agenda for the 88th General Assembly.
Wednesday the real work began after those house members who missed the Monday’s ceremonies due to the bad weather were sworn in. Then we voted to approve the House rules that would allow legislative business to operate in a smooth and orderly fashion. Later several committees met and held their organizational meetings.
Later that week more committees met and the full House also assembled and voted to approve the appropriations act to fund House operations for the session. Incidentally, in light of the economy, the session expenses were five percent less than last session due to a cut in temporary employees.
Since it takes a minimum of three days for a bill to be approved by both chambers – the House and the Senate – things were slow the rest of the week, but over 170 bills were filled in both hoses. Things should begin to really be hectic soon.
Although last week was a short week due to the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday, the legislative session began in high gear. First, each committee that met in rooms with video capabilities had to vote whether to allow the meetings to be shown live on the House website. All the committees who met in those rooms with the video capabilities voted to okay the process leading to a more accessible and open government.
Several interesting bills have been introduced into the committee process, including a controversial veterinary bill involving medical treatment of horses. (That one is still tied up in committee.)
A bill that funds the legislative, judicial and executive branches of our government was amended to eliminate a pay raise limited to only judges and prosecutors. Three smaller bills were passed to clarify some issues for city governments. A bill regarding licensing requirements for general contractors also passed the House and must now go to the Senate.
We also passed a House Resolution in honor of the U. S. Marshals Service and their museum now under construction in Fort Smith.
The 88th General Assembly has provided an exciting two weeks for me and the other legislators. I look forward to returning every day to be “about the people’s business”.
At this point, I am a member of the Public Health committee, the Counties, Cities and Local Government committee, the Legislative Auditing committee and the Communications and Technology committee where I am Vice-Chair.
As promised, I want to share my contact information with you. The quickest way to reach me is my cell phone – 870-723-6449. However, if I am in a meeting, it will be turned off. Please leave a message. There is also a message number at the House if my phone is off. Please call 501-682-6211 and leave your message. Those nice, efficient ladies will write it down and deliver it to me quickly.
My quickest e-mail addresses is email@example.com .
My website is being developed, but please feel free to call or email and share your views, questions and concerns.
Thank you again for the great privilege you have afforded me to serve your interests in this 88th General Assembly. I am forever grateful and humbled.
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