House Plans to Block Former Lawmaker's Return

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Arkansas House leaders are working on a rule change that would prevent a former legislator from returning to a seat he left to settle a felony sexual assault charge after he was accused of fondling a teenager.

Incoming House Speaker Robbie Wills says he'll ask members to consider a proposal to effectively keep former Rep. Dwayne Dobbins from returning to the House.  In March, Dobbins unexpectedly filed at the last minute to run for his old seat, which is currently held by his wife Sharon.  She did not file for re-election.

Wills said he hoped to have the chamber consider the rule change in August or September.  Changing House rules requires the support of at least 67 members.

In 2005, Dwayne Dobbins resigned and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment in a plea bargain reached after he was arrested on a felony sexual assault charge.  Prosecutors alleged that Dobbins fondled a 17-year-old girl at his home.

Wills says he'd like the House to caucus after the August 6 deadline to file with the state as a write-in candidate.  No other Democrats or Republicans filed to run against Dobbins, but the Democratic Party chairman has said he is looking for a write-in candidate to run.  The Green Party of Arkansas has nominated Richard Carroll to run against Dobbins.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)