Arkansas House Speaker Jeremy Gillam tells the D-G that the House is reviewing the committee assignment rules in the wake of Democrats gaining control of the majority of seats on the House Revenue and Taxation Committee despite the party making up a small minority of the House. Any changes would only go into effect after the 2018 elections, Gillam said.
Here’s Gillam, in comments to D-G reporter Michael Wickline:
I do feel like there is probably an improved method that could bring about a better result for the institution, so we are going to be open to having those discussions and talking to folks over the next couple of months and seeing what kind of options there are that might be good for us.
I told everybody that we were too far into the game this time and too far through the process this time to pull the rug out from under everybody. Plus, there was no consensus on what an alternate method should be.
Democrats had just 27 House members, down to 25 after a pair of power-thirsty lawmakers decided they weren’t Democrats even though they ran as such. But the Dems managed to snag 11 of the 20 seats on the House Revenue and Taxation Committee, meaning they could theoretically have some leverage to push for some progressive fairness in the GOP’s planned tax-cut bonanza. The procedural wrangling by Democrats took advantage of the rules promulgated by the Republican-controlled House, but many right wingers were unhappy with the minority party asserting their prerogative. Particularly bummed was Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, who said it was “outrageous and unacceptable” and “an affront to Arkansas voters.” Max has speculated that Griffin, whose past involvement in voter caging might itself be called an outrageous and unacceptable affront to Arkansas voters, might be motivated by designs on pushing an income tax exemption to add some sparkle to his political resume.
If House Republicans eventually want to change the rules, they should be able to do so easily; it takes 67 votes, so they have some wiggle room. Gillam didn’t provide any details about potential changes. Members from both parties expressed general openness to a shift but skepticism that there was currently a consensus around any specific re-working of the rules.