Why Rep. Gayla H. McKenzie is Legislator of the Year 2021
Part 2 of a series on past winners
Every two years Conduit for Commerce selects one Arkansas legislator as Legislator of the Year. The latest award winner is Representative Gayla H McKenzie. She was chosen because of her outstanding conservative voting record in the Arkansas General Assembly. Using Conduit’s Economic Freedom Filter she scored at the top. To see highlights of her conservative voting record see: REP. GAYLA MCKENZIE – Platform Hero Series
Recognition of Rep. McKenzie goes beyond that. She has displayed the courage to do what is right and lead the charge even when she has known the chance of success was small and the likelihood was high that political elites would target her.
Rep. McKenzie took on the biggest issue to work against conservative legislation – how House committee chairs are selected. Why is a procedural issue so important? It is important because Speakers of the House have been appointing committee chairs who work against many conservative bills. To illustrate: nine of the ten standing committee chairs (all appointed by the Speaker) have voting records that, instead of reflecting the Republican Platform, rank in the bottom half of all Representatives (Republicans and Democrats). That is a huge stumbling block to conservative legislation. See: Stumbling Block – Committee Chairs In AR House. For an example of how a chair can bend the rules see: The Joe Biden’s of the AR House.
Rep. McKenzie knew it would be nearly impossible to take away any of the Speaker’s appointments because most House members owe the Speaker a favor. (At least 80 Representatives owe the Speaker for appointing them as chair or vice chair of a committee or as chair or vice chair of a subcommittee.) She was also aware that to try to change how some committee chairs are selected would mean she would incur the wrath of the elites in the House and their corporate allies but tried anyway.
It was the right thing to do because it is the only way to give conservatives a fair chance to chair committees and remove the stumbling block to conservative legislation.
As expected, her proposal fell short but she set the example and now the stage is set for the next person to take up the battle.
Sure, Rep. McKenzie could have stayed quiet and avoided the wrath of the elites, but who wants that kind of person to represent them. To stay quiet is not being a representative. To stay quiet is merely being a place holder.
A conservative voting record and the courage to speak up – that is Representative Gayla H. McKenzie. That is why she was named Legislator of the Year 2021.
Will Representative McKenzie be back in the legislature next year? We don’t know. She is seeking a seat in the Arkansas Senate from Senate District 35 and she is in a runoff with Tyler Dees for the Republican nomination.
The runoff election is Tuesday June 21st. Early voting begins seven days before the elections (Tuesday June 14th).