By John R. Schirmer
For the first time in two decades, Larry Teague of Nashville was not sworn in as a member of the Arkansas General Assembly on the first day of the legislative session.
Teague, who served as a state senator and a state representative, was term limited. He spent six years in the Arkansas House and 14 in the Senate.
There were some years “in the middle” where he was not in office after the death of his father, Teague said.
In addition, Teague spent two years working with the late Jim Hill of Nashville when Hill was in the Senate.
“It was a good run,” Teague said of his years in the Legislature. “The whole world changed” during those 20 years.
When Teague started in the House, “It was the last term for some of the old-timers like Lloyd George and Ode Maddox. I had a chance to learn from those guys.”
As a fledgling legislator, Teague was placed on the House Rules Committee. One day, he posed a question and the chairperson wanted to know why he asked. “I want to know” was Teague’s reply.
As time moved on, “I learned ways to get around things” in order to work on behalf of his constituents, Teague said.
Teague eventually served on the Revenue and Taxation Committee and had the opportunity to apply some of what he had learned. Rep. George “had a terrible bill and it wasn’t going to pass. He asked me to vote for it. I needed him to vote for me [on another matter] and I voted for his bill.”
Republican Bart Hester, now president pro tempore of the Senate, once had a bill he couldn’t pass. He asked Teague, a Democrat, for help. He and others still contact Teague.
In todays world, The political system has changed, according to Teague. “Now, the parties are so polarized. It’s not a good thing.”
Teague learned early on whom to contact in the Legislature when he needed information on a particular subject. One of those to whom he turned was long-time House Parliamentarian Tim Massanelli.
“He was a fount of knowledge,” Teague said. “If you went to him to ask about something you wanted to do, he told you either it would work or ‘I’d do it this way.’ He wouldn’t say don’t do it, but he might tell you something better.”
Teague said he “learned a lot from my friend Jim Hill,” with whom he often consulted.
Even before Teague entered politics himself, Hill “came to see me one day and told me he wasn’t running for state representative. He was going to run for Neely Cassady’s seat in the Senate” when Cassady retired. “I ran for Jim’s seat” in the House, and his legislative career began.
Teague said he listened carefully to other legislators and learned from them. “There was a time when I could hear across the room. I listened to the old-timers talk. I’d learn something every time.”
Over the years, Teague passed numerous bills and voted against many others. Looking back, he said he is “most proud of the bills we killed. It was important to keep bad bills from happening.”
With his time in the Legislature completed, Teague will continue to work at his insurance office, Teague and Teague in Nashville.
In addition, “I’m taking care of my wife and Mom most of the time.”
Teague attended some of this week’s inaugural activities for Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
He isn’t sure about other involvement in government. “I’ve had a few ask me about helping to lobby.”
Teague said he is “thankful to the people for letting me serve. They can continue to call me.”