AR House to select speaker next Thursday

AR House to select speaker next Thursday

The newly elected House of Representatives will select its speaker next week. That allows extra time for a recount in one legislative race that could decide whether Republicans keep a majority 51 seats.
LITTLE ROCK, AR - The newly elected House of Representatives will select its speaker next week. That allows extra time for a recount in one legislative race that could decide whether Republicans keep a majority 51 seats.

Both parties said Friday they are trying to make the transition as smooth as possible.

It's called an organizational caucus meeting, but it closer resembles the first day of school. All 100 representatives picking where they get to sit in the House chamber and finding out which committees they'll serve on.

But the bigger question Friday, who will serve as the next House speaker now that Republicans hold a slim 51-48 majority over Democrats. There is one Green Party representative.

Representative Terry Rice (R-Waldron) would become the first Republican speaker since 1874. But he says the 51-48-1 split sends a clear message.

"What the people say in their vote to me is very important and I believe they've told us they want us to work together,” Rice says.

Representative Darrin Williams (D-Little Rock) was in line for the speaker spot until Tuesday's election results. He told reporters today he'll fill the role of speaker-designate until something changes

"I'm not going to be an obstructionist,” Williams says. “I'm going to do in the spirit of bipartisanship, I'm not going to make any decisions that are permanent or will have to be overturned. We're going to let this process work and we'll go from there."

After speculation a change could happen Friday, incoming House majority leader Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Hot Springs) told FOX16 News a vote would wait until next Thursday.

That gives additional time for a recount in a northeast Arkansas House race.

"I talked to the speaker about it, that's the way he wanted to do it to make a smooth transition," Westerman says. When asked if he thought Rice would win that election, Westerman replied “that’s my expectation.”

Williams is the first ever African-American speaker designate.
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