Senate Wraps Up Short Week

January 16, 2003
Posted at: 5:15 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The Senate today wrapped up a short work week and members left with few details to lift a veil of uncertainty back home over plans for a monumental restructuring of public schools.

Also today, a legislative committee struggled with structuring the debate on tort legislation, and the House was expected to pass a $70 million proposal to keep core government offices running through the end of June.

The Senate is to take tomorrow off, and the Legislature won't meet Monday because of the state holiday honoring Martin Luther King Junior and Confederate General Robert E. Lee. After passing a handful of routine budget bills today, members headed home to what some expected to be an avalanche of questions about schools.

Governor Huckabee outlined plans Tuesday to reduce the number of school districts from 310 to 116 and merge more than 50 state agencies and boards into ten major departments.

In a harbinger of legislative battles to come, the House Judiciary Committee spent an hour today debating how to structure the debate over legislation that would limit civil damage awards. The committee finally set a day-long hearing for January 28th on the so-called Civil Justice Reform Act of 2003.

Opposing sides each will have four hours to make its case. Committee members acknowledged that more debate could follow the first hearing.

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