Legislators Recess Until May 13

APRIL 13, 2005 - Posted at 4:41 p.m. CDT, updated at 8:04 a.m. on 4/14

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The Arkansas General Assembly recessed until May 13 Wednesday afternoon, pending changes in bills or consideration of veto overrides when it returns next month.  The state Legislature convened in mid-January and completed the bulk of its work in 94 days.

Before leaving, the Senate tapped Senator Jack Critcher, a Batesville Democrat, to be its leader in 2007, conditional upon his re-election to the Senate in 2006.

Critcher's election as Senate president pro-tem came by secret ballot, which represents a break from decades of tradition in which seniority had determined who would occupy the post.

Senator Dave Bisbee of Rogers had also sought the position.  Had he won, he would have been the first Republican to lead the upper chamber.  Bisbee would have moved into the position on the basis of seniority had the rules not changed.

Members of the Senate decided last fall to change the method for choosing the chamber leader.

Senators expected a close vote, even though the chamber has 27 Democratic members and only eight Republicans.  After members' votes were tallied, the ballots were destroyed.  Only the winner was announced, not the vote breakdown.  Afterward, members approved Bisbee's motion that Critcher's election be by acclamation.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)