More than 150 Fort Smith and Van Buren business and community leaders gathered Thursday at the Movie Lounge to meet with regional Legislators prior to the beginning of the 2013 General Assembly.
The event was hosted by the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce, and sponsored in part by Marrlin Transit, Summit Medical Center, and Sparks Health System.
Arkansas’ 2013 General Assembly is already historic in that it will be the first session in more than 140 years that the Republicans controlled the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Key issues likely to be debated in the session include Arkansas’ overall budget direction, Medicaid funding, tort reform, school funding, lottery scholarship changes, gun control and tax cuts.
“The 2013 session will begin slow, but will undoubtedly end with most of the significant issues of the important issues being settled in the final days of the General Assembly,” Clint Reed, a political analyst with Little Rock-based Impact Management Group, noted in this recent commentary  for The City Wire.
Michael Barr, with Harry G. Barr Co., welcomed the crowd to the mixer and thanked the legislators who attended. Legislators in attendance included Reps. Denny Altes, Gary Deffenbaugh, Charlotte Douglas, Jon Eubanks, Bill Gossage, Stephanie Malone, George McGill, and Terry Rice; and Sens. Jake Files and Bruce Holland.
Rep. George McGill, D-Fort Smith, is the only Democrat in the Fort Smith/Van Buren regional delegation.
Sen. Jake Files, R-Fort Smith, was selected Nov. 8 as the chairman of the powerful Senate Revenue and Tax committee.
Prior to the election, GOP legislative candidates promoted the idea of several tax changes, including cuts in capital gains taxes and a phased-in reduction of Arkansas’ individual income tax. Files, and the Revenue and Tax committee, will handle a wide range of those tax policy ideas from Democrats and Republicans – possibly including from Gov. Mike Beebe (D).
Rep. Davy Carter, R-Cabot, will be the Speaker of the House, and Sen. Michael Lamoureux, R-Russellville, was elected Senate President for the 2013 General Assembly.