Governor Beebe counts heads as reliably as he negotiates. He counted on 81 votes in the House of Representatives for his natural gas severance tax and that is what he got. The House bill (HB 1004) passed 81-16 with one present minutes after the House convened this morning. The Senate, where Beebe counts 32 votes among the 35 senators, will convene at 11. The two houses will exchange bills after the Senate vote this morning, their tax committees will meet in the afternoon and recommend the bills from the other chamber, and the chambers will convene tomorrow morning for the enacting roll calls. Beebe should be able to sign one of the bills into law Wednesday afternoon if the houses get them enrolled in time.

The marriage and Pulaski County desegregation bills passed the House handily, too.


UPDATE: The Senate passed its version 32-3 and read the House-passed bill twice, clearing the way for a final vote and adjournment Wednesday morning.