The 2017 Regular Session begins in less than a month. An effective legislative session depends on much more than the context of the bills. A great deal depends upon all members understanding the legislative rules, procedures, traditions, and resources.
This is why for last 80 years, the House has hosted and conducted a legislative institute. We have just completed the five day program.
The institute is an effort by House leadership and staff to help ensure that new members can more quickly become effective participants in the legislative process and returning members may broaden their knowledge of procedure.
Programs on the agenda include everything from parliamentary procedure to how to be prepared for emergencies in our districts. This week has also served as a time to personally know more about our colleagues who will be serving with us for the next two years.
After learning more about every member this week, we now know the 91st General Assembly represents a broad spectrum of ages, careers, and life experiences.
As with years past, several of our members have a background in agriculture. There are 14 members of the 91st who are either retired farmers or currently farming.
This General Assembly will include 11 attorneys, 7 engineers, and 7 members who are either teaching now or are retired educators.
The body also includes real estate agents, general contractors, auto dealers, medical professionals, and pastors, just to name a few.
Ages of the 91st General Assembly range from 25 to 79. We have 5 members who are considered Millennials.
A large portion of the body has had previous experience in public service with 10 members having served on a school board, 12 serving on a municipal or city board, and 17 previously serving terms in county government.
And 16% of the upcoming membership has served in the armed forces.
The one thing every member will have in common is that they represent an equal number of Arkansans. The training this week will help to ensure you are represented well over the next 2 years.