State Capitol notebook: State Senate OKs 14 Cabinet picks

Sen. Clint Penzo, R-Springdale, makes a motion to confirm cabinet secretaries during the Senate session at the state Capitol on Wednesday. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staci Vandagriff)

State Senate OKs 14 Cabinet picks

The Arkansas Senate on Wednesday confirmed Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders' nominations for 14 department secretaries.

In a voice vote with no audible dissenters, the Senate voted to confirm the Cabinet secretaries for the Republican governor.

Sanders nominated secretaries for the departments of agriculture, commerce, corrections, education, human services, inspector general, military affairs, public safety and veterans affairs as well as the departments of energy and environment, finance and administration, labor and licensing, transformation and shared services, and parks, heritage and tourism.

She hasn't nominated a secretary for the state Department of Health yet. Sanders spokesman Judd Deere said Tuesday that acting Department of Health Secretary Renee Mallory is continuing on an interim basis.

-- Michael R. Wickline

State Senate votes to approve recess

The Arkansas Senate on Wednesday approved a resolution to allow the House of Representatives and the Senate to recess at the close of business today and reconvene Tuesday.

In a voice vote, the Senate approved House Concurrent Resolution 1004 by House Speaker Matthew Shepherd, R-El Dorado. The House approved the measure Tuesday.

State law provides that out of respect to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and in observation of his birthday, neither the House or Senate shall convene in session nor shall any of their committees meet on the third Monday in January, which is Jan. 16 this year, according to HRC 1004.

Article 3, Section 28 of the Arkansas Constitution provides that neither chamber of the General Assembly may adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the other chamber.

-- Michael R. Wickline

State House passes general funding bill

The Arkansas House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to approve the general appropriation for the expenses of the judicial and legislative branches of government.

With Rep. Austin McCollum, R-Bentonville, voting present, the House voted 95-0 to send House Bill 1051 to the Senate for further action.

The bill includes $400,000 for trial judges' expenses; $368,000 for the House of Representatives' interim expense reimbursements; $200,000 for the Senate's interim expense reimbursements; $350,000 for special and recalled circuit judges; and $65,000 for district judges' travel expense reimbursements.

Under the Arkansas Constitution, the general appropriation bill is the first appropriation the General Assembly must approve before approving other appropriation bills.

-- Neal Early

Executive branch secretary nominations

The Arkansas Senate on Wednesday confirmed Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders' nominations for 14 department secretaries.


Wes Ward. Reappointment


Hugh McDonald. Former president and chief executive officer of Entergy Arkansas Inc.


Joe Profiri. Deputy director of the Arizona Department of Corrections


Jacob Oliva. Senior chancellor for the Florida Department of Education 

Energy and Environment

Shane Khoury. Currently serves as chief counsel for the


Finance and Administration

Larry Walther. Reappointment

Human Services

Kristi Putnam. Former deputy secretary of Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Service

Inspector General

Allison Bragg. Spokeswoman and white collar coordinator for the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of Arkansas

Labor and Licensing

Daryl Bassett. Reappointment

Military Affairs

Brig. Gen. Jon Stubbs. Deputy director for operations, readiness and mobilization at the Department of the Army at the Pentagon

Parks, Heritage and Tourism

Mike Mills. Founder and owner of Buffalo Outdoor Center in Ponca. Served as state’s director of tourism from 1982 to 1986

Public Safety

Mike Hagar. Arkansas State Police captain. Also will serve as director of the Arkansas State Police

Transformation and Shared Services

Joseph Wood. Washington County judge

Veterans Affairs

Maj. Gen. Kendall Penn. Arkansas National Guard adjutant general

NOTE: Sanders has not announced her nomination for secretary of the Department of Health

-Arkansas Democrat-Gazette