Senate Pro Tempores
The President Pro Tempore of the Arkansas state Senate is the senator elected by its members to lead the Senate.
When the governor is unable to perform the duties of the office, the Senate President Pro Tem is second in line to be the acting governor, after the Lieutenant Governor.
The president takes the chair every day the Senate is in session and preserves order and decorum, allowing all sides of an issue the opportunity to speak or act on legislation. The president announces how many votes are needed to pass a bill, as required by the state Constitution.
The President states the question to be decided before each vote of the Senate, and if a voice vote is taken the President determines which side prevails.
The President Pro Tem has the authority to convene the Senate between legislative sessions to address matters that affect the business of the full Senate.
Traditionally, the president is a spokesman for the Senate and represents it during negotiations with the House of Representatives and the executive branch. The President Pro Tem makes numerous appointments to legislative task forces, committees and commissions, such as to the state Ethics Commission, the Arkansas Rural Development Commission, the Arkansas Minority Health Commission and the Academic Facilities Oversight Committee.
The Arkansas Senate has traditionally rotated its leadership, electing a new member to serve as President for each new session. However, Senator Jonathan Dismang was elected to two consecutive terms, during the 90thand the 91st General Assemblies, from 2015 through 2018. He became the first senator since Senator William Norrell, in 1933 through 1936, to serve consecutive terms as President Pro Tem.
In the 19th century, three men served two or more consecutive terms as President Pro Tem of the Arkansas Senate. They were Senator J.M. Johnson, from 1868 through 1872, Senator Thomas Fletcher from 1858 through 1863 and Senator Mark W. Izard from 1838 through 1841.