“We’ll vote tomorrow,” House Speaker Davy Carter told reporters today after the appropriation for the private option came up five votes short today. Rumor has it that some members wish to wait for Senate approval, to which Carter said, “the Senate is scheduled to vote tomorrow anyways, but that’s not an issue with me. We’re going to vote tomorrow regardless.” 

Carter expressed confidence that private option will eventually get the needed 75-vote supermajority in the House: 


I’m 100 percent confident that bill will pass. How many times we have to vote, I’m not sure. Maybe once we get through hearing all the campaign speeches, we’ll vote it. I heard two campaign speeches today. I heard one member who complained about not having a seat at the table, but we’ve been debating this for 18 months openly and has not offered anything to the process. We’ve gone through great efforts to build a consensus with those amendments. You’ve got Rep. Nate Bell, I applaud him for his pragmatic statements today.

It kind of leaves you wondering what the remaining members…they have no plan. The reality is that there are 70 people out there, even today, that support this legislation. It is the law that’s on the books. The majority of members aren’t going to just roll over and watch this appropriation get defeated. All reasonable efforts by both parties have been made to come up with a compromise. 

Carter declined to speculate on the votes that flipped or what the final holdouts are hoping to accomplish. 

We’ll get through the process. I still remain 100 percent confident that we’ll pass it. What the various anglings are of various members, I cannot opine on that. But the process generally smokes that stuff out. 

He reiterated that the Bell/Burris amendments were the end of the negotiations. 


After these amendments, there is no negotiation. The negotiations are over. … It’s just the reality that we’re in. There aren’t enough votes to send that bill back to Budget or to amend it. It’s not going to happen. I would ask what the plan is for this small minority of members that want to hold everything up? It would be similar to nine senators or 26 representatives trying to pull out the Voter ID legislation that was so controversial last session out of the Secretary of State’s budget. Or any other controversial thing. That is a very slippery slope. … The choices are very clear. It’s that bill that is on the floor. Up or down. There is no negotiation. I want to ask what the plan is? We’ve been up here 18 months and anybody that had a genuine interest in working through the process has had an opportunity to do so. You’ve got people like Rep. Bell who hates this legislation but has come to the table and he’s made amendments — I’ve got some Democrat friends who hate his amendments, but that’s what you’re supposed to do, you’re supposed to come up here and work together and I applaud him for doing that. 

On whether House members would try to get policy changes unrelated to the private option, as Sen. Jane English did today: 

That could go on forever. We’re going to deal with this issue and not side issues that may or may not affect these votes. 

We’ll get 75 at the end. There’s been ample opportunity for every member to come to the table with an idea.

Though I didn’t necessarily agree with Rep. Bell’s idea, at least he had one. 

Though Bell’s amendment has so far only picked up…Bell, Carter said that the amendment was necessary to get over 75 in the end, “although we didn’t get it today.” 


Carter said he as no longer asking members to change their votes. 

We’re going to vote every day. There’s nothing that’s going to change. This is not a scare tactic, this is reality. The majority of members aren’t going to let a handful of minority members dictate this process. …

If some of the members want to oppose this during the fiscal session, then they’re going to own it. … If they want to vote no — particularly the ones that voted yes last time and effectively told the state of Arkansas that we were going to do this and changed their mind six months later after they did so, then that’s on them to explain that to their constituents.

We’ve talked about this until we’re blue in the face, but we’re not going to let 26 members here govern this process.