Arkansas General Assembly
The Arkansas General Assembly is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Arkansas. The legislature is a bicameral body composed of the upper house Arkansas Senate with 35 members, and the lower Arkansas House of Representatives with 100 members. All 135 representatives and state senators represent an equal number of constituent districts. The General Assembly convenes on the second Monday of every other year. A session lasts for 60 days unless the legislature votes to extend it. The Governor of Arkansas can issue a “call” for a special session during the interims between regular sessions. The General Assembly meets at the Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock.
The Arkansas General Assembly is authorized by the Arkansas Constitution, which is the state’s fifth constitution. The first was constitution was ratified on January 30, 1836, and the current constitution was adopted in 1874. The constitution has also been amended throughout the state’s history since 1874.
Originally, legislators met biennially, but today meet annually.
Powers and process
The Arkansas General Assembly is responsible for making and amending the laws of Arkansas. The legislative process is similar to that of other state legislatures in the United States. Bills undergo committee review and three readings on the floor of each house of the legislature. The governor has veto power, but a simple majority of both houses of the legislature can override that veto.
Legislators also select 20 state representatives and 16 state senators to serve on the Arkansas Legislative Council, which oversees the Bureau of Legislative Research and acts as an organizing committee for the legislature.
Terms and term limits
Amendment 73 of the Arkansas Constitution, approved by voters in the 1992 state general elections, set term limits for Representatives and Senators. Representatives were limited to three two-year terms (six years); Senators were limited to two four-year terms (eight years). (Amendment 73 also set term limits for U.S. Senators and Representatives. That part of the Amendment was found unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton. Section 4 of the Amendment included a severability clause so the remainder of the amendment remained in force.) This was largely obviated by Amendment 94 of 2014, which extended the total years that could be served to 16, in any combination of House and Senate seats.
- Arkansas General Assembly, Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture (accessed April 28, 2013)
- Arkansas Legislative Council, Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture (accessed April 28, 2013)
- “Women”. The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Arkansas: The Central Arkansas Library System. 2010. Retrieved March 31, 2010.
General Assembly of Arkansas Territory
| Legislature of Arkansas
September 12, 1836 – present