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Rep. Shepherd reelected to serve as Arkansas House speaker

Members of the Arkansas House of Representatives applaud after Tuesday's speech by Rep. Mathew Shepherd.
Arkansas Legislature
Members of the Arkansas House of Representatives applaud after Tuesday's speech by Rep. Mathew Shepherd.

With the formal adjournment Tuesday of the 2022 fiscal session of the Arkansas General Assembly, members of the House of Representative then voted on who would lead the chamber in next year’s session.

By a voice vote, Republican Rep. Mathew Shepherd of El Dorado was selected to again serve as speaker. He has been in the House since 2011 and has led the chamber since 2018.

Shepherd’s only opponent, Republican Rep. Austin McCollum of Bentonville, withdrew his candidacy shortly before the vote.

In a speech to colleagues afterward, Shepherd spoke about his joy of serving in the House.

“I love the comradery, I love the debate, I even love the challenges that are presented most of the time,” he said.

Shepherd, who works as an attorney, also spoke about the importance of bipartisan cooperation in the name of public service.

“In an era of hyper partisanship, I believe that we still, while being members of our respective political parties, that we still can maintain a House focused not on what divides us, but on what unites us for the betterment of the citizens of Arkansas,” Shepherd said. “I believe we’ve done a good job to this point, but that is something that we cannot take for granted but must continually work on and continually be dedicated to.”

Last week, state Senate President Jimmy Hickey, a Republican of Texarkana, lost his bid for another term leading that chamber to Sen. Bart Hester, a Republican of Cave Springs.

During the session that just wrapped up, lawmakers approved a $6 billion budget for the fiscal year that begins in July. It includes priorities declared by Gov. Asa Hutchinson at the start of the session to increase funding for education, law enforcement and the expansion of a state prison in Calico Rock.

Michael Hibblen was a journalist for KUAR News from May 2009 — December 2022. During his final 10 years with the station, he served as News Director. In January 2023, he was hired by Arkansas PBS to become its Senior Producer/ Director of Public Affairs.
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