Skip to the content

2023 Legislative Session Adjourns; Interim Committees Prepare for Busy Summer

Download DOC

LITTLE ROCK – The scheduled finish of the 2023 regular session of the legislature is May 1, when lawmakers adjourn sine die.

Adjournment means that the legislature will not convene again until next year’s fiscal session, which will convene on the second Wednesday in April of 2024. Until then, the legislature can only convene if the governor calls a special session.

However, during the interim legislators will have plenty of influence over the daily operations of state government. The Legislative Council meets regularly to closely monitor state agency policies.

The Administrative Rules Subcommittee will have an important role in the coming months because it will review numerous rules and regulations written by state agencies to carry out the new laws enacted during the 2023 session.

For example, the Division of Education will write rules to implement the LEARNS Act, sweeping overhaul of public school finance proposed by the governor and enacted by the legislature.

The Divisions of Correction and Community Correction will implement a battery of new rules to enforce the details of the criminal justice package approved during this year’s session.

It lengthens prison sentences for violent crimes, so that juries and judges will know more accurately how long convicted criminals will have to stay behind bars. It creates incentives for inmates to prepare for the outside world, requiring them to complete drug rehabilitation and job training in order to qualify for good time.

Those changes mean that prison officials, parole officers and the inmates themselves must adapt to a new and significant list of changes in how state prisons operate. Those changes will be reviewed by subcommittees and ultimately by the Legislative Council.

The legislature passed 203 appropriation bills that authorize spending by state agencies. It is the “power of the purse string” that the Arkansas Constitution grants to the legislative branch.

During the interim, the Legislative Council’s subcommittee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review will review requests by state agencies to transfer funding from one department to another. The subcommittee’s review ensures that executive branch agencies spend public tax dollars in accordance with the appropriations approved by the elected officials in the legislature.

The Legislative Joint Auditing Committee meets regularly in the interim. Its staff audits spending by school districts, colleges, universities and state agencies.

The legislature completed its business on April 7, the 89th day of the 2023 session. It recessed until May 1, when it formally adjourns. The three week recess allows legislative staff and the governor’s office to closely check bills for typographical or drafting errors.

During the recess the governor vetoed three bills and a part of another. The legislature can attempt to override those vetoes on May 1, but if lawmakers choose to do nothing the vetoes will stand and the bills will not become law.

The number of bills introduced and passed was historically low this year. Of 1,439 bills filed, 889 were passed and became law.

In the past several decades, the number of bills introduced has been closer to 2,000. The last time a legislative session considered fewer bills than this year was 1971, when 1,438 bills were filed and 829 became law.

Looking for Us?

State Capitol Building
500 Woodlane Street
Suite 320 
Little Rock, Arkansas