LITTLE ROCK, AR - Arkansas State Police were called to track down a legislator Friday during a vote to fund health care expansion. The private option failed for a fourth straight day.
Needing 75 "yes" votes, the $915 million appropriation for Medicaid expansion failed 71-18.
Over a dozen lawmakers were absent on Friday, but eight of those representatives "paired" their votes with a lawmaker in attendance.
A "paired" vote is considered usual form in the House if a legislator knows they will not be present and the vote is expected to be close. Each "pair" includes one member voting for and the other voting against.
Representative John Payton, R-Wilburn, served as a "no" pair, but left the state capitol during the pivotal private option vote.
House speaker Davy Carter, R-Cabot, summoned members of the Arkansas State Police to find Payton and bring him back to the House chambers.
"Would I rather not have to do that? Yes, but you know, we got to be here," Carter told reporters later. "There are some members that want to play games but this is going too far."
House minority leader representative Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville, says if the health care funding for more than 100,000 Arkansans does not pass next week, some Democrats may stop voting for the private option.
"We have a number of members that are going to be in competitive races, not just our caucus, Republicans too, who are feeling threatened from these repeated votes," Leding says. "Anything we can do to limit their exposure we should try to do so."
Update (Feb 20):
LITTLE ROCK, AR - A third vote in the Arkansas House of Representatives has failed to approve the Private Option funding bill.
This time around the vote was 72-25.
Earlier today, the Arkansas Senate passed the bill with a vote of 27-8.
Update (Feb 19):
LITTLE ROCK, AR - A second vote in the Arkansas House of Representatives has failed to approve the Private Option funding bill.
This time around the vote was 68-27. The measure needed 75 votes to pass.
Reporter David Goins says it doesn't appear any of the 27 no votes from yesterday changed today.
Original story (Feb. 18):
LITTLE ROCK, AR -- The Private Option did not get enough votes from the Arkansas House on Tuesday, according to reports.
There were 27 against and 70 in favor, five short of the necessary 75 needed to pass.
The House will vote again Wednesday.
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