LITTLE ROCK, Ark.—
Arkansas’ House speaker announced Wednesday he’s resigning later this month to take a government affairs job with the University of Central Arkansas, likely clearing the way for his successor to lead the House six months early.
Speaker Jeremy Gillam said he’ll resign effective June 15 to take the job as UCA’s director of governmental affairs and external relations. The House will meet on June 15 to elect an interim speaker to lead the chamber for the remainder of the year. Gillam said he expected the House would choose Rep. Matthew Shepherd, who was elected earlier this year to serve as speaker beginning in 2019.
Gillam, a Republican, has served in the House since 2011 and as speaker since 2015. Gillam will be paid $130,000 a year in his new position at UCA. He currently makes about $47,000 a year as speaker.
“There’s just an excitement there at the university and on the campus and for me to be a part of that team and to be part of still making a difference in lives of Arkansans and the students that attend the university was extremely attractive to me,” Gillam said.
Since the job is with a public university, Gillam won’t be subject to a “cooling off” period that prevents lawmakers from taking lobbying jobs for two years after their term ends. That exception applies as long as he doesn’t receive $400 in a quarter from a non-governmental source for lobbying or spend more than $400 in a quarter on lobbying.
A spokesman for Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the governor planned to call a special election for Gillam’s House seat. Gillam’s House term expires at the end of this year and he wasn’t seeking re-election. Hutchinson praised Gillam for his time leading the House.
“He has done a remarkable job serving as speaker, and his unique perspective and strong leadership will be missed,” Hutchinson said in a statement. “I have enjoyed our working relationship, and I wish him the best in his future endeavors.”