Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Arkansas House Committee Advances March Presidential Primary Bill

After a hearing on SB 445 that saw opposition to the measure moving the presidential year primary from May to March, the Arkansas House Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs passed the legislation on a voice vote.

While the committee passed the bill on to the House floor with a do pass recommendation, there was some resistance. As with the recent floor vote passing the bill on the Senate side, opposition to the two month move came from the from the membership itself. Representative Bruce Cozart (R-24th, Hot Springs) raised the issue that farmer/legislators might face with a later (April) fiscal session pushed back by a conflicting March primary election. The Libertarian Party of Arkansas took issue with the impact of an earlier filing deadline for independent candidates. And those representing both Arkansas county clerks and school boards brought up concerns with respect to the unevenness of the elections calendar from March in presidential years to May in gubernatorial years.

Despite that opposition, the committee passed the bill behind arguments that this legislation would 1) provide Arkansas voters with a voice in the presidential nomination process and 2) actually resolve the uncertainty around primary dates. On the latter point, SB 445 would make permanent the shift of the consolidated primary election in Arkansas rather than making the move, as the legislature did in 2015, but sunsetting the change after 2016. Future legislatures could still change the dates of the primaries, of course, but they would not be forced to look again at moving the date up if it was already in March.

There are not many other states that have uneven consolidated elections calendars like this, but Alabama is one, shifting primaries from March in presidential years to June in midterm years.

SB 445 now moves to the full House for consideration. It has already passed the Senate.

2/6/19: Out of Arkansas, An Apparent Challenge to the New Hampshire Primary

2/11/19: Arkansas Lawmaker Signals a Scaling Back of Presidential Primary Legislation

2/16/19: Amendment to Arkansas Bill Eyes March for Presidential Primary Move

3/1/19: New March Presidential Primary Bill Flies Through Arkansas Senate Committee

3/9/19: Arkansas Senate Makes Quick Work of March Presidential Primary Bill

3/19/19: On to the Governor: Super Tuesday Bill Passes Arkansas House

3/25/19: Arkansas Presidential Primary to Super Tuesday

Follow FHQ on Twitter and Facebook or subscribe by Email.

No comments: