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’11 Senate leader election next week

LITTLE ROCK — The state Senate will select is leader for the 2011 session on April 9, the last day of the session.

 Senate Pro Tem Bob Johnson, D-Bigelow says the four senators lobbying for succeed him Paul Bookout, D-Jonesboro;  Percy Malone, D-Arkadelphia; Mary Anne Salmon, D-North Little Rock, and Ruth Whitaker, R-Cedarville.

Sen. Randy Laverty, D-Jasper, announced today he has decided not to seek the office.


Solicitation charge

The state Senate today passed a bill that allows for a person who solicits sex for money from someone who is not a prostitute to be charged.

Sen. Robert Thompson of Paragould appeared a little uncomfortable presenting his bill as several senators could be heard chuckling. He said it was recently brought to his attention that a charge of solicitation can only be filed if the person being solicited is a prostitute.

“This does away with the necessity of proving that the offendee was a prostitute,” he said, adding that a city attorney in his Senate district told him of the loop hole in the law recently after several women had complained that a co-worker kept asking them to have sex with him for money.

“Now it’s only a crime if you solicit a prostitute,” Thompson said before Senate Bill 381 was approved 34-0. It goes to the House.


Playing by the rules

Judging by the noise, Mark Pryor sounded more like a paramedic than a senator Wednesday.

Pryor, D-Ark., apologized twice for the sirens heard in the background during the senator’s weekly conference call with reporters.

He conducted the call from his office rather than in its usual spot, the high-tech Senate Recording Studio in the basement of the Capitol. Maybe next week he’ll have insulated windows.

Pryor apologized for what he called “street noise” of emergency sirens that blared twice during his 30-minute call with Arkansas reporters based in Washington and back in the state.

Pryor had to use the phone to call in rather than the better equipment in the studio because of his upcoming Senate race. By rule, senators are barred from using government-owned television or radio studios or sending mass mailings to constituents during the 60 days before an election.

It’s a safe bet Pryor will play by the rules, even if it means making radio reporters cringe because of a noisy telephone connection. After all, Pryor serves on both the Senate Ethics Committee and its rules panel.

Pryor faces Green Party candidate Rebekah Kennedy of Fort Smith in the Nov. 4 general election.

He’s also limited as to what he can add to his Web site during the 60-day moratorium. Pryor cannot add photos or updates (other than news releases) until after the election.

Kennedy faces no such restrictions.