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The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday ended its practice of allowing senators to simply describe out loud their amendments to various bills.

The new chairman of the committee, Sen. Alan Clark, R-Lonsdale, said the Judiciary Committee was the only panel in the Senate that continued to allow voice amendments. A rule change approved at the committee's first meeting Wednesday will require all future amendments to bills to be introduced in writing.

[RELATED: Complete Democrat-Gazette coverage of the Arkansas Legislature]

The only exception is for "technical" amendments, such as adding a comma or making a grammatical correction.

The Judiciary Committee is typically one of the busiest committees in the Senate, and Clark said that having the staff try to write down substantive changes being proposed by senators added confusion and delays to the legislative process.

A rule change approved by the full Senate last year shifted some of the workload off the Judiciary Committee by moving certain gun bills to the Committee on City, County and Local Affairs.

The new change got its first test later Wednesday, when Sen. Bob Ballinger, R-Hindsville, successfully proposed a "technical" amendment to a bill regarding sex offenders by changing the word "or" to "and."

-- John Moritz

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