Arkansas senators cleared a path Wednesday for a vote on a bill to keep the lieutenant governor’s office vacant until the November general election. A Senate committee advanced a measure that would enable Gov. Mike Beebe to not call a special election for the lieutenant governor’s office. The position has been vacant since Mark Darr resigned on Feb. 1. Holding the election would cost at least $1 million, said the bill’s sponsor, Senate Republican Leader Eddie Joe Williams of Cabot. Darr, a Republican, resigned under the threat of impeachment and after the state Ethics Commission fined him $11,000 for ethics violations tied to his office and campaign spending.
Later in the day, lawmakers agreed to cut the number of workers in the lieutenant governor’s office. They endorsed a change to the bill in another committee that would cut the office’s four full-time staffers to one. The measure would reduce the office’s salary funds to no more than $40,000 starting July 1, with an ending date of June 30, 2015. The office is to be filled in the November general election.
Sen. Bruce Maloch, D-Magnolia, who submitted the proposal, said he doesn’t think the office requires four staffers when the office is currently vacant and noted one employee would be sufficient in managing the office while it remains empty.
“As we deal with budget, and we look for places where we can save money, we should look at lieutenant governor’s office which is currently unoccupied,” he said.