Monday, June 17, 2013

TOP STORY >> Getting to know your legislators

Leader staff writer

Rep. Douglas House (R- North Little Rock) was the first of the state’s 100 representatives to become a video star.

“It just worked out that we got hold of him first,” said a legislative spokeswoman.

As part of an ongoing effort to increase communication between members and constituents, the Arkansas House of Representatives is releasing video biographies of its members. The video series is titled “Meet the Rep.”

In the videos, members will describe what makes their districts unique. They will also share stories about their professional and family life back home. Some members tell us about their hobbies and interest away from the Capitol.

The House Communications Office is releasing the videos at the rate of one a week.  Once released, the videos will be made available on the member’s biographical section on the House’s website. The videos will also be on the legislature’s Twitter and Facebook sites.

House said the video took about 15 minutes to film. “They just sat me down, starting asking questions and I answered them,” he explained. The House Communications Office staff then edited the video down to the required length of time.

“I think it went well,” House said. “The response has been positive. Everyone I’ve talked enjoyed it except one media outfit that doesn’t like me anyway,” he quipped.

The video clips are the brainchild of the communications office. “We are enjoying it and learning more about the representatives that we work with everyday during the session. We think their constituents will also get to know their representatives better through the videos,” said Cecile Pond-Mayo, a spokesman for the communications office.

She added that her office would try to film House Speaker Davy Carter (R-Cabot) within the next few weeks. “We will get to everyone before the next session starts,” Pond-Mayo said.
Meanwhile, House is not resting on his 15 minutes of fame.

“I’ve been working with a lot of constituents,” he said, “particularly a group that wants to make sure the cemetery on Hwy. 89 is properly maintained. I’m putting on my legislative and lawyer hat in helping the group.”

House also said he is keeping abreast on the tar spill in Mayflower. “It wasn’t oil, but tar sands that spilled,” he said. “I’m mostly helping people with concerns get into contact with those that might have answers for them.”

The private option is another issue House is eyeing closely. “We want to make sure it has the success that we want it to. There’s something going on all the time. This is not a part- time job anymore.”

Other area representatives, although not video stars yet, are also staying busy even though the session ended last month.

Rep. Jose Farrer (R-Austin) is on the lottery oversight committee, which met last week to look at revenues. “It’s my first time on the committee, so I’ll be listening and learning,” he said. But Farrer is worried about what he calls a shortfall in lottery revenue.

Rep. Mark Perry (D- Jacksonville), who is also on the lottery committee, doesn’t consider it a shortfall. “Our revenues are less than last year, but we are still funding $90 million in scholarships. I think that’s pretty good,” he said.

Carter said various official meetings would be picking up in about a week. “The legislative council has already met once, looking ahead to the next session.”

Like House, Carter said the private-option issue would be the highest priority during the “off-season.” “We’ve got to make sure all the steps are being taken to properly implement it,” he said.

House’s video and those of the other representatives, when released can be found on Twitter at @ArkansasHouse, on Facebook at, the website and YouTube.