The 2010 Fiscal Session of the Arkansas Legislature kicked things off yesterday afternoon with an address from Governor Beebe. But amid the snowfall outside and the handshakes and greetings echoing inside the halls of the Capitol, something else happened that perhaps did not get as much attention: Seven non-budget bills were added to the calendar for consideration.

Now, bringing up a non-budget (or “non-appropriation”) item requires a two-thirds vote of the legislature; nevertheless, lawmakers are already trying to secure a spot on the agenda for their non-fiscal legislation to be brought up during this fiscal session.

Now, I’ve said from the beginning that I’m not a fan of annual sessions. I’m afraid that the two-thirds vote requirement could turn into a simple formality, and that fiscal sessions may begin to look more like regular legislative sessions, with all kinds of new laws and new government expansions passed. If a legislative matter is pressing enough to require immediate attention when the legislature is not in-session, the Governor can authorize a special session—that is much more brief and focused than a normal session—to deal with whatever matter is at hand and go home. Annual sessions are here, however, and already we have new legislation being proposed.

Among the seven non-appropriation bills being offered for consideration are two bills amending the lottery law passed in 2009, two bills dealing with Arkansas’ Revenue Stabilization Act, a bill allowing county hospitals to pay their board members, a bill forming a legislative subcommittee, and a bill requiring college tuition increases of 10% or more to be reviewed by members of the legislature.

You can read the full text of each proposed bill here:

While not all of these bills are necessarily bad, what bothers me about all of this is that filing bills during a fiscal session may become a habit, and the original intent of the fiscal sessions might become lost amid stacks of new legislation.

One thing is for sure: We’ll be out at the Capitol each day—as always—to monitor what happens as this session unfolds.