GOP takes both chambers of Arkansas Legislature

Associated Press Modified: November 8, 2012 at 10:16 pm •  Published: November 8, 2012
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Williams had been elected speaker-designate this year, and the House traditionally formally seats the speaker on the first day of the session in January.

Moore said he would hold the House meeting next week to give potential candidates time to prepare. Westerman said scheduling the vote next week would also allow time for the recount to occur.

"We want this to be a smooth transition process," Westerman said. "I know the Senate was able to do it with a smooth transition, and we want ours to be a smooth transition as well."

Williams said, meanwhile, he would continue preparing for next year's session as speaker.

"Until there's a vote telling me I'm not (speaker), I don't think it's proper for me to stop doing something or to not prepare," Williams said.

With leadership questions surrounding the razor-thin margin Republicans claim in the House, Senate leaders sought to paint their chamber as working in a bipartisan fashion after a bitterly fought election. Lamoureux was nominated for the Senate presidency by Democratic Sen. David Wyatt, who won re-election Tuesday in a heated race.

"I continue to believe we will do what's best for Arkansas," said Teague, who was Lamoureux's pick to co-chair the powerful Joint Budget Committee. "Now the vision may be a little different, but I still think it will be business as usual, us getting in here and trying to do our work and take care of the people."

But the advantage Republicans have in shaping policy next year was clear as the Senate set committee assignments. The GOP holds a majority of seats on all but two of the Senate's top committees. The Public Health Committee, which will play a key role in Medicaid discussions, was split evenly between parties. Republicans hold a majority of seats on the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee, which will likely hear a proposal by Beebe to further reduce the grocery tax and other tax cut ideas.

The assignments were welcome news for Rep. Bryan King, a senator-elect from Green Forest, who said he plans on trying again with a proposal next year to require voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot. King's photo ID measure passed the House last year, but died before the Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Republicans now control five of the eight seats on that committee.

"I think we're going to finally get the voter reforms here that I've always tried to pass here," King said. "I'm ecstatic."

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Associated Press Writer Chuck Bartels contributed to this report

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Andrew DeMillo can be reached at www.twitter.com/ademillo

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