The Arkansas Senate has passed an appropriation bill for expenses for the state’s two legislative bodies and the state auditor for the upcoming fiscal year.
Sen. Jonathan Dismang (R-Beebe), chair of the Joint Budget Committee, reintroduced the House Bill 1085 to the Senate body, asking for a “good vote” on the appropriation bill after a third reading. This bill had been read a first and second time on Jan. 13 and placed on the Senate calendar for considered.
The vote was unanimous in support of House Bill 1085, with 35 votes for the bill.
House Bill 1085 was passed by the Arkansas House of Representatives on Wednesday, Jan. 13 after being referred to the Joint Budget Committee. The House vote was 96 in favor, while three were non-voting and one representative, Rep. Austin McCollum (R-Bentonville), voted “present.”
This bill will appropriate $795,000 to the Auditor of State from the Constitutional Officers Fund for “personal services and operating expenses” for the auditor’s office during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022. These expenses include $350,000 for special/recalled judges for circuit courts, $400,000 for trial judges’ expenses and $45,000 for district judges’ travel expense reimbursements.
Both the Arkansas Senate and the House of Representatives were appropriated funds from the Constitutional Officers Fund for interim expense reimbursements. The House was appropriated $368,00, while the Senate was appropriated $200,000.
The appropriated funds are intended to be used for “interim expenses” incurred by legislators. The Secretary of the Senate will be the disbursing officer for the Arkansas Senate, while the House Chief of Staff (or a designee) will be the House disbursing officer.
An emergency clause was attached to the bill, making the appropriation effective July 1, 2021. According to the bill’s language the emergency clause is necessary to ensure the continued operation of the Auditor of State office. The bill states that the bill is “essential to the operation of the agency for which the appropriations in this Act are provided, and that in the event of an extension of the legislative session, the delay in the effective date of this Act beyond July 1, 2021 could work irreparable harm upon the proper administration and provision of essential governmental programs.”
The bill will now be sent to Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s office to be signed into law.