Taking into consideration the long drive to and from Little Rock, the state’s intention to cut back where it can and the typically caustic atmosphere during floor discussions, both chambers of the state Legislature said Wednesday they would begin hosting all political discourse via the forum-driven website Topix.
According to a jointly voted upon and signed release, rather than continue to “bleed money” by paying their representatives and senators for travel to the Capitol when the 2013 session begins, the House and Senate made the tough decision this week to hold future discussions online.
Once a month all legislators will be required to report to Little Rock where all voting will be held in public meetings, however, all other discussion will be relocated to Topix, stated the release.
The move is expected to save the state $3 billion annually in travel expenses and hospital bills resulting from “brawls on the floor,” stated the release.
“I can’t tell you the number of times a particularly sensitive topic has riled feathers,” one representative said under the condition of anonymity following the public release. “And then suddenly, what started out as a typical, run-of-the-mill debate about a simple tax increase has resulted in two legislators going at it on the floor.”
“Seriously,” he added. “I’ve seen bloodied lips.”
Effective Jan. 2, 2013, all legislators will be required to report online by 9 a.m. each weekday morning for their respective legislative sessions which will be viewable by the public and will therefore also serve to maintain transparency in state government, noted the release.