Arkansas Senate

Arkansas Senate
93rd Arkansas General Assembly
Great Seal of Arkansas
Term limits
Members first elected on or before November 3, 2020: 16 years (consecutive or non-consecutive, both houses), eligible to run again 4 years after their last term ends. Members first elected after November 3, 2020: 12 years (consecutive, both houses), eligible to run again 4 years after their last term ends.
FoundedJanuary 30, 1836 (1836-01-30)
Preceded byArkansas Council (Territorial)
New session started
January 11, 2021
Leslie Rutledge (R)
since January 10, 2023
President pro tempore
Bart Hester (R)
since January 11, 2021
Majority Leader
Scott Flippo (R)
since January 11, 2021
Minority Leader
Keith Ingram (D)
since January 15, 2013
Arkansas Senate Arch 6d29r.svg
Political groups


Length of term
4 years
AuthorityArticle 8, Section 2, Arkansas Constitution
Salary$39,399.84/year + per diem
Last election
November 8, 2022
(17 seats)
Next election
November 5, 2024
(18 seats)
RedistrictingArkansas Board of Apportionment
Meeting place
Arkansas State Senate.png
Senate Chamber
Arkansas State Capitol
Little Rock, Arkansas
Arkansas Senate

The Arkansas State Senate is the upper branch of the Arkansas General Assembly. The Senate consists of 35 members, each representing a district with about 83,000 people. Service in the state legislature is part-time, and many state senators have full-time jobs during the rest of the year. During the current term, the Senate contains twenty-seven Republicans, seven Democrats, and one independent.


The Arkansas Senate was created and re-created by the Arkansas Constitution ratified on January 30, 1836. It is now governed by the fifth and current constitution of Arkansas adopted in 1874.[1]

During the Reconstruction era after the American Civil War, the federal government passed the Reconstruction Acts and enfranchised African Americans. Many African Americans served in the Arkansas House and a smaller number in the Ariansas Senate (African-American officeholders during and following the Reconstruction era) until Democrats reasserted white supremacy and barred them from voting and holding office as was done across the American south.

In 1947, the Arkansas Legislative Council committee was created to collect data for legislators and oversee the Bureau of Legislative Research, which is composed of professional, nonpartisan staff to aid in the legislative process. The committee consists of 36 legislators, 16 of which are state senators.[2]

In 1964, Dorathy M. Allen became the first woman elected to the Arkansas Senate.[3] During her time in office, she was the only female in the Arkansas Senate.[4]

Legislators met biennially until a 2008 ballot initiative created annual legislative sessions.[2] In 1992, voters approved term limits of two four-year terms.[2] In 2014, term limits were extended to 16 years cumulative in either house. In 2020, voters approved a constitutional amendment changing terms limits to 12 consecutive years with the opportunity to return after a 4 year break.[5] This change only effects legislators elected after the November 2020 elections. Legislators elected in the November 2020 elections or earlier can serve 16 years consecutively or non-consecutively and return once 4 years have passed from their last term expiring.

Powers and process

Arkansas state senators are responsible for making and amending the laws of Arkansas in collaboration with the Arkansas House of Representatives and the governor. Senators begin the legislative process by submitting bill requests to the staff of the Bureau of Legislative Research that drafts a bill to conform to the author's intent. Bills are then filed with the Secretary of the Arkansas Senate or an assistant secretary of the Arkansas Senate.[6] The legislative process during the legislative session mirrors that of other state legislatures in the United States. Bills are introduced on First Reading and assigned to a committee, vetted by the committee, undergo Second and Third Readings on the floor of the Senate, go to the opposite house of the legislature, and return or go directly to the governor. The governor has veto power, but two-thirds of the membership of both houses of the legislature can override that veto.[6]

State senators are also responsible for approving the governor's appointments and 16 members of the Arkansas Senate serve on the Arkansas Legislative Council and the Joint Auditing Committee.[6] The Arkansas Legislative Council oversees the Bureau of Legislative Research, which provides professional support services for legislators.[2] It also acts as an organizing committee and members on the council exert a greater degree of influence over the legislative process and outcome.[2]

Terms and qualifications

The senators are usually elected for four-year terms. After the U.S. Census every ten years, all Senate districts are redrawn to ensure that they each have approximately the same number of constituents. After redistricting, every senate position appears on the ballot in the next election. Following this, senators draw lots, and 18 are allotted a two-year term while 17 receive a four-year term. This staggers elections so that only half the body is up for re-election every two years.

Two-year terms drawn by a senator after reapportionment do not count against a senator's service under the term limits amendment, which limits Arkansas state senators to two terms of four years. A senator who draws a two-year term can serve for 10 or even 12 years, depending on when they were elected.

Arkansas Constitution – Article 5. Legislative Department. § 3. Senate.
The Senate shall consist of members to be chosen every four years, by the qualified electors of the several districts. At the first session of the Senate, the Senators shall divide themselves into two classes, by lot, and the first class shall hold their places for two years only, after which all shall be elected for four years.

They are also limited to serving no more than two four-year terms.

Arkansas Constitution – Amendment 73. Arkansas Term Limitation Amendment. § 2(b). Legislative Branch.
The Arkansas Senate shall consist of members to be chosen every four years by the qualified electors of the several districts. No member of the Arkansas Senate may serve more than two such four-year terms.

Current composition

Composition of the Arkansas State Senate after the 2020 elections.
  Democratic Party
  Republican Party
6 29
Democratic Republican
Affiliation Party
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Democratic Republican Independent Vacant
End of 88th General Assembly (2012) 20 15 0 35 0
Begin 89th General Assembly (2013) 14 21 0 35 0
End of 89th General Assembly (2014) 13 22 0
Begin 90th General Assembly (2015) 11 24 0 35 0
End of 90th General Assembly (2015) 0
Begin 91st General Assembly (2017) 9 26 0 35 0
November 15, 2017[7] 25 0 34 1
November 16, 2017[8] 24 0 33 2
February 9, 2018[9] 23 0 32 3
June 19, 2018[10] 25 0 34 1
93rd General Assembly Start 7 27 1 35 0
95th General Assembly (2023-2024) 6 29 0 35 0
Latest voting share 17% 83%


The President of the Senate is the presiding officer of the Arkansas Senate, but the President Pro Tempore is the presiding officer in the absence of the Senate president.[6] In practice, the President Pro Tempore generally serves as the presiding officer. Other Senate leadership positions include Majority leader, Whip and minority party positions. Committee assignments are determined by seniority, according to the rules of the Senate.[6]


Office Officer Party District
President/Lieutenant Governor Leslie Rutledge Republican N/A
President Pro Tempore of the Senate Bart Hester[11] Republican 33
Assistant Pro Tempore, 1st District Dan Sullivan Republican 20
Assistant Pro Tempore, 2nd District Clarke Tucker Democrat 14
Assistant Pro Tempore, 3rd District Jim Dotson Republican 34
Assistant Pro Tempore, 4th District Breanne Davis Republican 25

Floor Leaders

Office Officer[12] Party District
Majority Leader Blake Johnson Republican 21
Majority Whip Ricky Hill Republican 11
Minority Leader Greg Leding Democratic 30
Minority Whip Linda Chesterfield Democratic 12


Current committees include:[13]

  • Agriculture, Forestry & Economic Development
    • Senate Small Business & Economic Development
    • Senate Forestry & Natural Resources
  • Ar Legislative Council
  • Children And Youth Committee
    • Senate Children & Youth Subcommittee
  • City, County & Local Affairs Committee
  • Education Committee
    • Public School Employee Health Insurance Subcommittee
    • Ar Comprehensive School Improvement Plans
  • Insurance & Commerce
    • Senate Financial Institutions Subcommittee
  • Judiciary Committee
    • Senate Health Services Subcom. (Synthetic Marijuana-K2)
    • Senate Court And Civil Law Subcommittee
    • Senate Correction, Criminal Law & Child Support Subcom.
  • Public Health - Senate Subcommittee On Minority Health
  • Public Health - Senate Substance Abuse Treatment Services Subcommittee
  • Public Health, Welfare And Labor Committee
    • Senate Labor & Environment Subcommittee
    • Senate Human Services Subcommittee
    • Senate Health Services
  • Revenue & Tax
    • Senate Subcommittee On Economic And Tax Policy
    • Senate Sales, Use, Misc. Taxes & Exepmtions Sub.
  • Senate Biennial Institute
  • Senate Efficiency
  • Senate Rules, Resolutions & Memorials
    • Winthrop Rockefeller Memorial Subcommittee
  • State Agencies & Govt'L Affairs
    • Senate Election Laws Subcommittee
    • State Agencies & Gov'T Affairs - Senate Constitutional Issues Subcommittee
  • State Agencies & Govt'L Affairs - Senate Sub. On Cosmetology Board Rules
  • Transportation, Technology & Legislative Affairs
    • Senate Waterways & Aeronautics Subcommittee
    • Senate Motor Vehicle & Highways Subcommittee

Current Senators

District Name[14] Party Residence First elected Seat up Term-limited
1 Bart Hester Rep Cave Springs 2012 2024 2028
2 Jim Hendren Ind Gravette 2012 2024 2028
3 Cecile Bledsoe Rep Rogers 2008 2022 2024
4 Greg Leding Dem Fayetteville 2018 2022 2034
5 Bob Ballinger Rep Berryville 2018 2022 2034
6 Gary Stubblefield Rep Branch 2012 2022 2028
7 Colby Fulfer Rep Springdale 2022 2022
8 Mathew Pitsch Rep Fort Smith 2018 2022 2034
9 Terry Rice Rep Waldron 2014 2022 2030
10 Larry Teague Dem Nashville 2008 2022 2024
11 Jimmy Hickey Jr. Rep Texarkana 2012 2024 2028
12 Charles Beckham Rep McNeil 2020 2024 2036
13 Alan Clark Rep Lonsdale 2012 2024 2028
14 Bill Sample Rep Hot Springs 2010 2022 2026
15 Mark Johnson Rep Little Rock 2018 2022 2034
16 Breanne Davis Rep Russellville 2018 (special) 2024 2034
17 Scott Flippo Rep Mountain Home 2014 2022 2030
18 Missy Irvin Rep Mountain View 2010 2022 2026
19 James Sturch Rep Batesville 2018 2022 2034
20 Blake Johnson Rep Corning 2014 2022 2030
21 Dan Sullivan Rep Jonesboro 2014 2024 2030
22 David Wallace Rep Leachville 2016 2024 2032
23 Ron Caldwell Rep Wynne 2012 2024 2028
24 Keith Ingram Dem West Memphis 2012 2022 2028
25 Stephanie Flowers Dem Pine Bluff 2010 2024 2026
26 Ben Gilmore Rep Crossett 2020 2024 2036
27 Trent Garner Rep El Dorado 2016 2024 2032
28 Jonathan Dismang Rep Beebe 2010 2024 2026
29 Ricky Hill Rep Cabot 2018 (special) 2024 2034
30 Linda Chesterfield Dem Little Rock 2010 2022 2026
31 Joyce Elliott Dem Little Rock 2008 2022 2024
32 Clarke Tucker Dem Little Rock 2014 2024 2032
33 Kim Hammer Rep Benton 2018 2022 2034
34 Jane English Rep North Little Rock 2012 2024 2028
35 Tyler Dees Rep Siloam Springs 2022

Past composition of the Senate

See also


  1. ^ Arkansas General Assembly, Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture (accessed April 28, 2013)
  2. ^ a b c d e Arkansas Legislative Council, Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture (accessed April 28, 2013)
  3. ^ Smith, Lindsley Armstrong (October 29, 2009). "Dorathy N. McDonald Allen". The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Central Arkansas Library System. Retrieved March 31, 2010.
  4. ^ Johnson, Ben (July 15, 2009). "Modern Era, 1968 through the Present". The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Central Arkansas Library System. Retrieved March 31, 2010.
  5. ^ "Issue 2 - Arkansas Term Limits Amendment". University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Research & Extension. Retrieved March 31, 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d e 2013 Senate Rules, Arkansas Senate (accessed April 27, 2013)
  7. ^ Peppas, Jeremy (November 20, 2017). "Cabot: Governor sets special election to fill Senate seat". Lonoke News. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  8. ^ Lanning, Curt (November 17, 2017). "State Sen. Greg Standridge Dead at 50". ARKANSASMATTERS. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  9. ^ Wilson, Kristen (January 30, 2018). "Sen. Jake Files sends resignation letter to governor". KATV.
  10. ^ "State's 2 newest senators sworn in". Arkansas Online. June 20, 2018.
  11. ^ Wickline, Michael R. (January 9, 2023). "Arkansas Senate elects Hester as president pro tempore; Shepherd elected House speaker for 3rd time". Arkansas Online. Retrieved January 17, 2023.
  12. ^ Herzog, Rachel; Moritz, John; Wickline, Michael R. (January 12, 2021). "Arkansas lawmakers gather, take first actions of session". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Little Rock, Arkansas: WEHCO Media. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  13. ^ "Arkansas Senate Committees". Open States. Sunlight Foundation. April 9, 2014. Retrieved April 9, 2014.
  14. ^ "Legislator Search Results". Retrieved October 16, 2017.

External links

Coordinates: 34°44′48″N 92°17′21″W / 34.7467387°N 92.2892220°W / 34.7467387; -92.2892220