The Arkansas General Assembly is convening for the 2020 Fiscal Session, starting today (April 8). During the session, legislators will vote on bills impacting the state’s budget, with a particular focus on managing budgetary issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both chambers of the assembly – the Arkansas Senate and the Arkansas House of Representatives – will officially convene for the fiscal session at 12 p.m. on Wednesday.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson will kick off the fiscal session by delivering a State of the State address in the Senate Chamber at the Arkansas State Capitol. This address will be livestreamed for member of the Arkansas House of Representatives, who have gathered at the Jack Stephens Center at UA Little Rock. The address is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. and can be viewed here.
Following the address, there will be a joint budget committee meeting. According to the committee’s agenda, they are planning to adopt a temporary emergency rule and will be considering a batch of bills earmarked for the Joint Budget Committee.
The House Management will be meeting at 1:30 p.m. to consider at least two bills. The two bills are HB 1001 and HB 1002. The first bill, HB 1001, concerns appropriations for expenses and salaries of the Arkansas House of Representatives for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. The second bill will deal with personal services and operating expenses for House members and their staff.
On Thursday, the Joint Budget Committee’s PEER Review subcommittee will meet at 8 a.m. to evaluate a range of requests. These request include cash fund appropriate increases for the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Agriculture and the Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System. The subcommittee will also consider temporary appropriates for multiple state departments as well as federal grant appropriate requests.
The full Joint Budget Committee will convene 9:30 a.m on Thursday and at 9 a.m. on Friday.
According to a previous release from the Arkansas House of Representatives, the fiscal session is not expected to last as long as previous sessions. Fiscal sessions can last up to 30 days but must receive a three-fourths vote from both the House and Senate to extend it past that time. The longest the session can be extended is 15 days.