Arkansas

State Senate Confirms Hutchinson’s Nomination for State Nursing Council in Stage Two

 

The Arkansas Senate confirmed Little Rock nurse Leslie Harmon Branman to the state Board of Nursing on Wednesday, a day after an attempt to confirm her failed.

In a voice vote with at least one audible dissent, the Senate voted to confirm Branman’s nomination by former Governor Asa Hutchinson.

The Senate action on Wednesday came after the House approved a motion by Sen. Dave Wallace, R-Litchville, to reconsider Branman’s nomination. After that, Wallace said that he received several phone calls from voters that Branman would do a good job on the Board of Nurses.

Senator Clark Tucker of Little Rock told senators that Branman is “a very qualified person” and her agenda will be patient safety.

In addition, the State Nursing Council was having difficulty reaching a quorum for its members, he said.

The Senate voted 13 to 5 on Tuesday to confirm Branman, five votes short of the 18 votes needed in the 35-member Senate to confirm the nominee. It comes after the Senate Rules Committee on Monday rejected her candidacy for the state council.

On Wednesday, Branman said she has been a nurse for 21 years, including 17 years of plastic and cosmetic surgery.

She said she applied for a position on the Nursing Council in October 2019 and received a call on December 5 telling her that Hutchinson had appointed her to the council.

Branman said she was shocked and disappointed that the Senate rules committee rejected her nomination on Monday. She said she called as many senators as possible on Tuesday to present her approval to the board of directors.

Branman said her perseverance, combined with Tucker’s good leadership, helped her establish herself on Wednesday.

Her confirmation means that on Tuesday and Wednesday the Senate voted to confirm the 20 people appointed by Hutchinson to state councils and commissions. The Senate rejected 30 former Republican governor’s appointments to state councils and commissions, leaving the seats vacant for Republican governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

The Senate also confirmed Hutchinson’s nominations of Lynn Ritchie and Hayley Strunk to the State Board of Nursing, but rejected the nominations of Michael Bourdin, Neldia Dykus, Amy Fecher, Melanie Garner, Stacey Hipp, Janet Ivers, Lance Lindow, and Debra Schulte for nursing positions. board.

Over the past two decades, the Senate has rarely rejected nominations for governors to state councils and commissions.

The Senate Rules Committee on Monday initially rejected Hutchinson’s 36 state board and commission nominations and recommended that the full Senate vote to approve Hutchinson’s 14 state board and commission appointments.

Senate Rules Committee Chairman Clint Penzo, a Springdale Republican, said on Monday that the Senate received those nomination letters from Hutchinson at the last minute, shortly before Sanders was sworn in as governor Jan. 10, and the Senate had no information about many appointees.

Hutchinson spokesman Bob Burgess said on Monday: “These appointments were made over the course of several weeks to fill vacancies and, as usual, they have been grouped into one announcement.

“Because this was Gov. Hutchinson’s last round of appointments, the announcement was made at the end of his term, and I’m not entirely sure how they got passed to the Senate,” Burgess said.

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