Freshman legislators must get up to speed quickly

LITTLE ROCK, AR – The 89th General Assembly is underway at the capitol. With redistricting, all 135 House and Senate seats were up for election last fall.

Take the house — 100 seats and you can only stick around for 6 years. So, about a third shuffle in and out every two years. But this year — that number is even higher.

In a sea of 100 house members — they don’t wear nametags. They’re not advertising it but they’re freshmen.

“Those of us who are coming into the legislature fresh, we’ve got to learn quick and we’ve got to be effective in a very quick way.”

Little Rock freshman rep Warwick Sabin is one of 41 new house faces. Today he learned he already has a leadership spot — voted to lead the freshman caucus.

He says the biggest goal right now for freshman — listen and learn.

“I think you’ve got to find that balance between not coming in guns blazing but making sure you can be effective in the long run.”

Term limits mean house members at most get three 2 year terms. Some will get even less time.

“I’m trying to sit back and take all of it in really and try and learn as much as I can. But I also understand that I’ve got a very limited amount of time to be effective. So sooner or later I’ve got to sit down and get some legislation going.”

So if the 41 freshmen of 2013 want to make an impact, they’ll have to act quickly in an already fast-paced legislative session.

Although Medicaid will be the important issue of this assembly, ending human trafficking will also be discussed.

This is the first time since reconstruction that Arkansas Republicans control both the House and Senate.

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