Sanders will take the oath of office in the state House of Representatives before delivering an address to a joint session of the Legislature. The 40-year-old Republican will afterward deliver her inaugural address on the steps of the state Capitol.
Sanders, who served nearly two years as White House press secretary, won the governor’s election last year after focusing heavily on national issues and her time working for former President Donald Trump. But she’s mostly avoided weighing in on the former president since the election and has said she wants to focus her attention on Arkansas.
Sanders will become the most well-known former Trump official in elected office. Her father, Mike Huckabee, served as Arkansas’ governor for more than a decade.
Arkansas lawmakers convened on Monday
Arkansas lawmakers convened on Monday for the start of the annual legislative session. Sanders has said her top priority is education reform legislation that she says will include a focus on improving literacy, pay raises for teachers, school safety measures and some form of using public money to pay for private schooling or homeschooling. She has also said she’d support legislation similar to a law in Florida that forbids instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.
Other items on Sanders’ legislative agenda include a push for cutting the state’s income tax and public safety measures. She takes office with the state sitting on more than $2 billion in reserves and with Republicans in the Legislature having expanded their supermajority in the November election.
Sanders is succeeding Asa Hutchinson, who is leaving office after eight years due to term limits. Hutchinson, a Republican, is considering running for president. He has said Trump winning the GOP nomination again would be the “worst scenario” for his party.