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by Emily Smith - May 9, 2019
What does it take to legislate?
Seminar 7: Public Policy and the Media called on LeadAR Class 18 members to answer this question, among others, as they delved into the legislative process,
explored the role of media and lobbying in the Arkansas legislature, and examined
the importance of collaboration among legislators and leaders.
The seminar, which took place at the Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Cooperation headquarters and the Arkansas Capitol on May 2-4, consisted of expert speakers, distinguished
panelists, a mock legislative session, and a visit from Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
Class members kicked off Seminar 7 with a welcome from LeadAR alum and current State
Rep. Jamie Scott. According to Scott, her first-term success inextricably relates
to the notion of finding common ground among her fellow legislators. While legislators
do not always agree on every issues, Scott said that their ability to find common
ground - to recognize the unifying elements of the human condition - is key to moving
We also hosted a panel of lobbyists that revolved around their different roles and
responsibilities, which change depending on the type of work being done. Our panel
This panel exposed class members to the different types of lobbying and explored their
roles in relation to legislators, other lobbyists, clients and the public.
Like legislators and lobbyist, members of the media also play an integral role in
the legislative process. Public perception can both champion and condemn leaders and
organizations when thrust in the spot light. The class picked up tips on working with
the media from Rob Rodel, director of corporate communications for the Electric Cooperatives
of Arkansas, and Kristin Higgins, Program Associate for the University of Arkansas
System Division of Agriculture’s Public Policy Center. Class members learned how to
respond to media and what it’s like to navigate the world as a reporter.
At the Arkansas Capitol, class members put their knowledge to work. In preparation
of the seminar, they researched and wrote their own bills. Once at the Capitol, the
class applied their work to a mock legislative session by moving their bills through
committees, lobbying for one another’s support of bills, and fielding the mock media
looking for public comments.
The day ended in a General Assembly on the Senate floor facilitated by President Pro
Tempore Herschel Cleveland. During the mock session, 12 bills passed, 3 bills failed,
2 bills were tabled/postponed, and 3 bills failed to make it out of committee.
Other Speakers & Acknowledgements
The seminar also benefited greatly from these speakers and participants:
We offer a special thank you to Arkansas Electric Cooperative Cooperation for hosting
Seminar 7: Public Policy and the Media. We also owe a special thanks to Tom and Judy
Riley for hosting a dinner for LeadAR Class 18 and opening up their community of El
Paso to us.