AR Briefly

The Arkansas Legislature officially ends the 2023 legislative session

By: - May 1, 2023 3:24 pm
Anti-abortion activists celebrate Friday after the U.S. Supreme Court ended a woman's right to abortion.

The Arkansas State Capitol. (Getty Images)

This year’s legislative session officially ended Monday after the Arkansas House of Representatives and Senate adjourned sine die.

The House did not convene, meaning a resolution closing the session automatically took effect at noon. The Senate met briefly to approve several ceremonial resolutions and a handful of gubernatorial appointments to state boards, commissions and leadership positions.

The confirmations were handled all at once without debate. They included the confirmation of former state Prisons Secretary Solomon Graves to the Arkansas State Claims Commission and Little Rock attorney Kevin Crass — who led Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ transition team — to the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees.

The Legislature ended the business portion of the session on April 7 after considering more than 1,400 bills and passing nearly 900.

The three-week break allowed time for Sanders to sign the remaining bills into law and issue any vetoes. She vetoed four bills, and neither chamber attempted an override on Monday.

In all, Sanders and state lawmakers enacted 889 new states laws — the lowest number in five decades — according to the Arkansas Bureau of Legislative Research.

With Monday’s adjournment, most of those laws will take effect on July 31, unless they are struck down by a court or subject to a referendum initiative. Only one repeal effort has been made public so far.

Sine die — a Latin phrase for “without day” — means the Legislature isn’t scheduled to convene again this year. The next scheduled session will be the 2024 fiscal session early next year.

However, Sanders and some lawmakers have hinted that a special session could be called later this year. Asked Monday about a potential special session, a Sanders spokeswoman pointed to a televised interview Sanders gave Talk Business and Politics Editor Roby Brock last month during an episode of Capitol View on KARK.

“I think it’s certainly possible that we could have a special [session], not a 100%. I don’t want to just go in without a plan,” she told Brock. “That’s what we’re working on right now, working with our partners in the legislature to see what the best path forward is and how we address some of the cost and have a bit more cost containment and look for long-term sustainability. Because that’s what we need when it comes to our Medicaid program. It’s certainly not the path that we’re on right now. So we’re digging deep and that’s a big priority for us over the next several months.”

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Hunter Field
Hunter Field

Hunter Field is a veteran Arkansas journalist whose reporting on the state has carried him from military air strips in northwest Arkansas to soybean fields in the Arkansas delta. Most recently, he was the Democrat-Gazette's projects editor, leading the newspaper's investigative team. A Memphis native, he enjoys smoking barbecue, kayaking and fishing in his free time.