King to be first freshman Senator to chair Joint Audit Committee
LITTLE ROCK -- When the 89th General Assembly convenes in regular session on Monday, Jan. 14, state Sen.-Elect Bryan King of Berryville will become the first freshman senator in Arkansas history to serve as a co-chairman of the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee.
King just completed six years in the state House of Representatives, which is the most allowed under the Arkansas term limits amendment. He was elected to the Senate on Nov. 6 and chose his committee assignments at the Senate's organizational meeting at the state Capitol, held in preparation for the 2013 regular session.
The Audit Committee is charged with auditing school districts, state agencies, cities, counties and institutions of higher education.
If auditors discover that tax dollars are not being properly accounted for, they work with officials to put in place generally accepted accounting procedures. In serious cases they can turn over their findings to local prosecuting attorneys, who may file charges.
The legislature created the Audit Committee in 1953 with passage of Act 41. In 1954, the first chairman was named, Rep. L. Weems Trussell, a freshman from Fordyce. The following year, when the committee began its auditing function in earnest, a Senate veteran, Y. Milton Mack of Moorefield, in Independence County, became its chairman. Since then, the chair of Joint Audit has been a position of leadership in the Arkansas legislature.
Since then the chairmanship of Joint Audit has rotated every two years among legislative leadership, as have other leadership positions such as Speaker of the House and President Pro Tem of the Senate. Until 2000, the chairmanship alternated between House and Senate leaders.
King is the first freshman to chair the committee since Trussell's brief tenure in 1954, and the first freshman senator to ever chair the committee.
"It is quite an honor to chair Joint Audit, " King said. "Its responsibilities are as important as any in state government, to ensure that tax revenue is spent for the purposes it is supposed to be spent and to make sure that every dollar of public money is accounted for."
"Transparency is vital if citizens are to have the power to control government spending, and the Legislative Audit Committee provides that transparency in government spending at both the state and local levels," King said.
King also will serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which considers proposed legislation that would change civil and criminal law.
King also will serve on the Senate Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs, which considers proposed bills that affect campaign finance, elections, ethics requirements for elected officials, the retail and wholesale of alcoholic beverages and wagering. In each regular session the legislature may refer up to three constitutional amendments to voters, and the proposals are first considered by the State Agencies Committee.
King also will serve on the Joint Budget Committee, which reviews in detail all state agency spending requests. He will be a member of the Legislative Council, which meets in the interim between sessions to monitor state government operations. Its subcommittees review personnel decisions, transfers of money within agencies and contracts that state agencies enter with private sector businesses.
King also will serve on the Joint Performance Review Committee, which has authority to investigate any problem areas within state government.
"My constituents should be excited about my committee assignments because I'm in a position to hold public officials accountable, control spending and ensure financial transparency at several levels of government," King said.
King represents Senate District 5, which is mostly rural and includes Madison County and parts of Carroll, Crawford, Franklin, Johnson, Sebastian and Washington counties. District 5 includes the cities and towns of Eureka Springs, Berryville, Hindsville, West Fork, Winslow, Mountainburg, Cedarville, Alma, Lavaca and Mulberry, among others.