The latest generation of Arkansans to enter the state Legislature, millennials, will soon have their own caucus to meet over policy and ideas.
State Reps. Warwick Sabin, D-Little Rock, and James Sturch, R-Batesville, announced Tuesday that they were forming the Arkansas Future Caucus, to consist of lawmakers age 45 and younger. Their plan is being backed by the Millennial Action Project, whose leaders said they have helped start similar caucuses in 19 other state Legislatures.
Unlike committees -- through which legislation typically has to pass -- caucuses are informal groups of lawmakers who share identities or values.
While there's no list of official caucuses in Arkansas politics, those aided by the Bureau of Legislative Research include groups of cattlemen, conservatives, Irish-Americans, blacks, veterans, women, sportsmen and people who have oil and natural gas interests.
Sabin -- who at 41 falls out of the typical millennial category of people born in the 1980s and 1990s -- said the goal of the caucus will be to "capture the energy of the millennial generation."
He pointed to legislation sponsored by the Legislature's youngest member this year, 26-year-old state Rep. Austin McCollum, R-Bentonville, to create a chief data officer in state government.
"A lot of the folks in my political party and my side of the aisle, we're always focused on ways to make government more efficient, cut back spending," said Sturch, 27. Ways to do that, he said, include putting more services online.
As Sabin put it, "it's easier to transcend partisanship when you're working with contemporaries."
Steven Olikara, the founder and president of the Millennial Action Project, said policies that have emerged from young caucus groups in other states include regulations on the sharing economy, digitizing public and campaign finance records, and addressing student loan debt.
Members won't age out of the caucus, Olikara said, and when they are old enough to be elected, members of the next age category, Generation Z, will be able to join. The Millennial Action Project also holds conferences for lawmakers to meet and has a Facebook group where lawmakers can share legislative ideas, he said.
Other states that have caucuses for young members include Arkansas' neighbors Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi.
There are 35 lawmakers age 45 and younger among the 135 members of the Arkansas Legislature. Four members are in their 20s, all in the House.