Bill attempting to clarify Arkansas accounting and budgetary law following lectern audit fails in legislature

Bill attempting to clarify Arkansas accounting and budgetary law following lectern audit fails in legislature
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – One week after a legislative audit stated Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ office was in potential violation of state law over a $19,000 lectern purchase, a lawmaker failed in her attempt to take action to address the issue.

Rep. Julie Mayberry (R-Hensley) presented an amendment to the Special Language Committee Wednesday, telling committee members the intent was to clarify the general accounting and budgetary law regarding constitutional officers and agencies. She said the goal was to hold both to the same standard of transparency.

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Days before the audit’s release, an opinion from the attorney general’s office explained his office’s position that constitutional officers are generally not subject to the same accounting for transactions as agencies.

The audit looking into the governor’s purchase and finding areas of potential non-compliance indicated otherwise.

Mayberry’s amendment failed Wednesday for a lack of motion, indicating no signs of support, at least within the committee. It failed after 15 minutes of back and forth between other Republicans and Mayberry.

“Going into today, I knew that the chances were very slim that this was going to go anywhere,” Mayberry told KARK 4 News. “That’s not why I’m here. I’m here to make a point that we need to do something and we need to fix this.”

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Sen. Jonathan Dismang (R-Beebe), one of many who vocalized concerns about this bill, said he is not adamantly opposed to looking at this law more closely, but not until the regular session next year.

His questions, along with several other lawmakers, stemmed around the confusion over Mayberry wanting to clarify the governor, attorney general and a few other constitutional officers as “agencies” but not all elected, appointed officials.

“What you’re doing here, in some ways is very expansive, and, in some ways, very narrowly tailored,” Dismang said. “I think in some ways it says a lot of things you’re not trying to say.”

Another Republican legislator questioned Mayberry, asking if anyone pushed her to file this amendment, specifically the legislative audit. Mayberry said no one ever asked her to file legislation, other than her own constituents who had questions about the recent audit.

“This was my decision because I’m standing here representing my people back home,” she explained.

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin releases opinion on audit looking into governor’s $19,000 lectern purchase

Mayberry added that the amendment ensures “common sense accounting.”

“We’re asking them to save receipts,” she said. “We’re asking them to make sure we get the best bang for the buck. Isn’t that what we expect?”

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