LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Arkansas House Speaker Davy Carter on Friday said representatives won't vote next week on a proposal to allow them to raise campaign funds during the legislative session, citing little appetite to suspend the rule among members.
Carter said he didn't believe there was support to suspend the fundraising ban during the fiscal session, which is set to convene Monday, and didn't plan on asking members to consider it. The House Rules Committee on Thursday had recommended suspending the rule.
Carter said he would only convene the House to take up the suspension if a majority supported the idea. Suspending the rule would have required a two-thirds vote among members present for the caucus.
"If the support is there to make a change, we'll entertain that," Carter said. "It seems like there's not in this instance at least at this moment."
House Majority Leader Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, asked the panel last week for clarification on whether the fundraising rule applied to federal candidates. The panel voted in response to recommend allowing fundraising by federal candidates, but on Thursday it for all House members.
Westerman is one of two House members running for Congress. He's seeking the GOP nomination for the 4th Congressional District, and Rep. Ann Clemmer is running in the 2nd District.
Ryan James, Westerman's campaign manager, said he told House staff earlier Friday that Westerman wasn't collecting names of members who would support taking up the rule change. James said Westerman would abide by the rule and not raise money during the fiscal session.
Rep. John Vines, who had proposed suspending the rule, said he didn't plan on pressing for a vote on the matter either. Vines, D-Hot Springs, said he made the motion because he didn't believe it was fair to only lift the rule for federal candidates.
"It seemed better to just say we either have the rule or we don't have the rule," Vines said.
The state Senate doesn't bar its members from raising money during the fiscal session, which is held in even-numbered years and focuses primarily on the state's budget. This year's fiscal session will be the third under a constitutional amendment voters approved in 2008 requiring the Legislature to meet and budget annually.
Under the amendment, the fiscal session lasts up to 30 days and can only be extended an additional 15 days if approved by three-fourths of the House and Senate. The one-week filing period for this year's election begins Feb. 24, and the state's primary is on May 20.
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