Tuesday, May 26, 2015

First Presidential Primary Bill of Arkansas Special Session Does Not Call for SEC Primary Date

In a sign of what may yet come in the short special session this week in Arkansas, the opening salvo in the effort to join the SEC primary on March 1 does not actually call for moving the presidential primary in the Natural state to March. Instead, Representative Nate Bell (R-20th, Mena), who derailed the regular session bill to create a separate presidential primary scheduled for the SEC primary date, went in a different direction.

On the opening day of the three day special session, Rep. Bell introduced HB 1002. This legislation would bump up the date of the Arkansas consolidated primary, but only to the first Tuesday in May for the 2016 cycle. Under current law, the Arkansas primary would be held on May 24, three weeks later than the proposed date from Bell. Additionally, Bell's bill would also require the state House and Senate Committees on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs to "study the effects and benefits of holding the preferential primary election and the general primary election in May" after the 2016 cycle.1

These study committees have come up from time to time and tend to lead nowhere; as in the presidential primary does not move. That was the case when Indiana in 2009 talked about but did not ultimately study the benefits of moving out of the Hoosier state's typical early May primary for something earlier.

In the Arkansas case, the study committee may be nothing more than a stall tactic. Bell chairs the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee and bottled up the previous, regular session bill there. That he has proposed alternative legislation may signal that he is willing to do the same with any SEC primary bill that may once again come over from the state Senate (with the governor's support). This is just a three day session, so running out the clock is very much an option that is on the table as far as the Arkansas effort to join the SEC primary.

1 The "general primary election" is what the runoff system is called in Arkansas. The "preferential primary election" that precedes it is what is called a primary election in the majority of states.

Follow FHQ on TwitterGoogle+ and Facebook or subscribe by Email.

No comments: