2 local senators take prominent roles in upcoming legislative session

The 35-member Arkansas Senate has held its organizational meeting to elect leadership and formalize the rules for the 92nd General Assembly of the legislature. The legislature will convene in regular session on Jan. 14th.

During the organizational meeting, Senator Scott Flippo of Bull Shoals was elected as an officer for the position of majority whip. Senator Flippo joins other officers including Senator Jim Hendren of Gravette as president pro tempore for the next two years, with Senator Bart Hester of Cave Springs serving as the majority leader.

Senator Keith Ingram of West Memphis will be the minority leader and Senator Will Bond of Little Rock the minority whip.

Senator Missy Irvin of Mountain View will chair the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee, one of nine Senate standing committees.

The changes in Senate rules will affect which committees will consider proposed legislation affecting alcohol, tobacco, firearms and medical marijuana.

Previously, bills that affect gun laws would go to the Senate Judiciary Committee. However, under the new rules, they will be referred to the Senate Committee on City, County and Local Affairs.

Bills affecting tobacco and alcohol used to be referred to the Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs, but now they will go to the City, County and Local Affairs Committee.

Medical marijuana bills will be referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development. Arkansas voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2016 legalizing medical marijuana.

In the 2017 session, much of the enabling legislation that put in place the mechanism for cultivation and retail sales of medical marijuana was referred to the Senate and House Committees on Public Health, Welfare and Labor.

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