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Arkansas PoliticsEthics/Government TransparencyRead

Stumbling Block – Committee Chairs In AR House

In the Arkansas House of Representatives there are ten standing committees. The chairs of the committees have a lot of influence over legislation. How they conduct meetings can change the outcome for some legislation.

Currently, all ten chairs are Republicans but as you know not everyone who runs as a Republican supports the conservative values of the platform of the Republican Party of Arkansas. Therefore we decided to look at their voting records.


Let’s take a look at the voting records of these ten House chairs from the Conduit for Commerce scorecard for 2021. The scorecard uses an Economic Freedom Filter to analyze votes. The Economic Freedom Filter analyzes bills that do the following: (1) Increase or decrease the size and scope of government, (2) Increase or decrease dependency on government, (3) Spend money we do not have, and (4) Increase or decrease transparency in government.

How did the ten standing committee chairs do on the 2021 economic scorecard?

There are 78 Republicans in the 100 member House of Representatives. Speaker of the House Matthew Shepherd (R- El Dorado) and previous speakers rarely vote which caused his score to be on the bottom of all Representatives (#100). Ignoring the Speaker’s score for now, how did the ten committee chairs compare with the other 77 Republicans?

The results are shocking! Eight of the 10 committee chairs failed to even rank among the top fifty Republicans which means, only two scored above 50%.  Several were on the bottom list, next to Democrats, ranking 73, 75, 76, and 77.


Chair Rank Committee
Mark Lowery 6 Insurance & Commerce
Jack Ladyman 26 Public Health, Welfare and Labor
Lanny Fite 55 City, County & Local Affairs
DeAnn Vaught 61 Agriculture, Forestry & Economic Development
Mike Holcomb 66 (tie) Public Transportation
Dwight Tosh 66 (tie) State Agencies & Govt’l Affairs
Charlene Fite 73 Aging, Children and Youth, Legislative & Military Affairs
Carol Dalby 75 Judiciary
Bruce Cozart 76 Education
Joe Jett 77 Revenue & Taxation


How did so many Republicans with good voting records get passed over for chairmanships and so many with bad records get picked?

The standing committee chairs are appointed by the Speaker of the House. The Speaker is Matthew Shepherd (R- El Dorado) and they are his appointees and serve at his pleasure.

The selection of committee chairs can have a huge impact on legislation and can make it easier or more difficult for conservative legislation to get out of committee. Perhaps this is why the Arkansas Senate has never given its leader the power to appoint standing committee chairs and vice chairs.

Speaker of the House Matthew Shepherd (R- El Dorado) has indicated he is running for an unprecedented third term as Speaker of the House. It is hard for anyone to challenge a sitting Speaker because most legislators owe the Speaker favors for being appointed to positions such as chair, vice chair, and subcommittee chair and vice chair or for the Speaker appointing them as members of a special committee. With Shepherd’s advantage, it looks like 2023 will bring more big government committee chairs in the Arkansas House of Representatives.

The election of the next Speaker-Designate will be held at the end of the Fiscal Session which begins in February.


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