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Arkansas PoliticsEthics/Government TransparencyRead

Rewarding Democrats and Bypassing Republicans

How many Republicans do you think are in the Arkansas House of Representatives?

Republicans first became the majority in 2013 and soon the people of Arkansas started electing a Republican supermajority, which means at least a two-thirds majority. Now in 2023, Republicans hold 82% of the seats in the House. That means only 18 members of the House of Representatives are not Republicans.

Representative Matthew Shepherd (R) will again be Speaker of the House. Shepherd has a history of passing up some Republicans for leadership positions to give the positions to Democrats. Because of Shepherd’s history of rewarding Democrats, some Republican members of the House have never held a chair or vice chair position despite entering their 4th or 5th term.

At least 47 House Republicans sent Shepherd a letter asking him to quit appointing Democrats when there are enough Republicans to fill all the leadership positions. The letter notes there are 86 chair and vice chair positions, when you consider all the committees and subcommittees of the House of Representatives. Filling all the leadership positions with Republicans would allow even first term Republicans to gain some leadership experience.

The letter says:

“Mr. Speaker, we write to you not in a spirit of partisanship for its own sake but rather in respecting the outcome of the election and governing with the supermajority the voters gave us. Our members deserve the chance to lead and advance our shared agenda as chairs and vice chairs of these important committees. For this reason, we believe all 86 of these positions should be filled by Republican members.”

Why has Shepherd passed over Republicans for Democrats in the past? With 82 of 100 Representatives being Republicans, why does it take a petition by Republican Caucus members to try to convince Shepherd to end his practice of bypassing Republicans?

Letter to Speaker Shepherd

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