Arkansas Trucking Association

You are here: Home Article Archive The Last Word

The Last Word

Doing hard things

By Rep. David Ray

On Feb. 4th, I presented my first bill on the House floor. As a freshman legislator, and especially as one of the youngest members of the House, I was nervous. I was also nervous for another reason: I wasn’t sure my bill would actually pass.

My bill, HB 1368, would require special elections to be held on one of two standardized dates that are consistent and predictable from year to year. The reason I ran this bill is simple: it's not fair to voters to hold elections on random and unpredictable dates, especially elections that raise their taxes. It’s one of the reasons we have high taxes compared to neighboring states. But this happens all the time.

This may not sound controversial, but I assure you it is in certain quarters—there are many groups with a vested interest in preserving the status quo. The Arkansas Municipal League and many school superintendents didn’t like the bill. They argued it would restrict local control and make it difficult to pass local projects such as school improvements or funding for libraries.

After my presentation, questions and debate, the bill failed on the House floor. It was the first bill this session to receive the distinction of dying on the House floor. Through a parliamentary maneuver, I was able to bring the bill back for a second vote, but it still fell short, 46-46, with a handful not voting.

I expected a close vote, but I knew there was a reasonable chance the bill would fail. Previous efforts to pass similar legislation came up short in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019, so I knew what I was getting into. One of my colleagues asked me why I chose such a contentious topic for my first bill. The answer is because I ran for this office to try and do hard things. If we all only ran bills that passed 98-2, then none of our difficult challenges would ever be solved.  

It's disappointing when your bill fails, but I was most disappointed that six of my Republican colleagues who had pledged to support me on the bill voted NO when it came to a vote. Prior to being elected, I had worked in electoral politics, issue advocacy and state government in various roles for over a decade, so I’m accustomed to the idea that politics can be a messy business. But even to me, it was an eye-opening experience. I learned a lot of lessons from running my first bill—lessons that I’m certain will serve me well later this session and hopefully in the next one as well.

After taking the weekend to lick my wounds, I returned to the Capitol the following Monday and filed three more bills. All of them were controversial to some extent because they challenge the status quo. They won't be bills that will pass 98-2. They may not pass at all. But I ran for this office to try and do hard things, and I'm determined not to let one setback stop me.

After all, it wasn’t easy to get elected in the first place. The long hours spent knocking doors, putting up signs and asking friends for donations amounted to a second full-time job, which took away time from my wife and two children, both of whom were under the age of three at the time. But it’s clearer now than ever: taking the path of least resistance will never solve our problems. If we want to solve difficult problems, we have to be willing to get a few scrapes and bruises. I know I am.


Rep. David Ray is serving his first term in the Arkansas House. He represents District 40 which includes portions of Pulaski and Faulkner Counties.

Contact Us

Arkansas Trucking Association
PO Box 3476 (72203)
1401 West Capitol Ave.
Suite 185
Little Rock, AR 72201

(501) 372-3462 | Phone
(501) 376-1810 | Fax

Our Mission

  • PROTECT the collective interests of trucking companies in the political and regulatory arenas.
  • PROMOTE the dynamics of trucking so that people have a better understanding of the link between America's primary freight delivery system and the standard of living they enjoy.
  • SERVE our members to help them to grow their business and their profits
You are here: Home Article Archive The Last Word