Betty Warren Overbey (1946–)
Betty Overbey was a representative from Lamar (Johnson County) for District 69 in the Eighty-eighth, Eighty-ninth, and Ninetieth Arkansas General Assemblies, serving from 2011 to 2016.
Betty Warren was born on January 9, 1946, in Salus (Johnson County) to Paden Patric Warren, who was a logger, and Nola Jewel Tilton Christian Warren, who worked in the home. Warren received her early education in the Oark (Johnson County) public schools, graduating from Oark High School in 1963.
Betty Warren married George Overbey Jr., and they had three children. She became an active member of the First United Methodist Church in Lamar, where she served on the Finance Committee and as a Stephen Minister. She was a member the Lamar chapter of Order of the Eastern Star of Arkansas and of PEO, an organization that provides scholarships to help women further their education. For thirty-five years, she was an Arkansas State Revenue Agent for the Department of Finance and Administration for Johnson and Pope counties, until her retirement in 2010.
After her long career in state government, Overbey said that she knew she “had more to contribute to make Arkansas a better place to live.” In 2010, she ran for the District 69 seat in the Arkansas House of Representatives, the position her husband George Overbey Jr. held from 2005–2010 until he was term limited. She said that her husband—who served as mayor of Lamar, member of the Lamar School Board, and state representative—was her political mentor.
Overbey promised to do her best for her constituents and “to be there every day. It’s not a part-time job if you want to do what you told your constituents you’d do.” She faced Dwight Hoyle and Mike Shaw in the Democratic primary. She led with 45.4 percent of the vote in the preferential primary, won the runoff election against Hoyle with 50.4 percent of the vote, and was unopposed in the general election. In her bid for reelection in 2012, Representative Overbey was targeted by the state Republican Party as a vulnerable incumbent. She was unopposed in the Democratic primary and defeated Dwight Hoyle (who had begun running as a Republican) by 50.8 percent in the general election. Overbey was unopposed for reelection in 2014.
During her first term, Representative Overbey was a member of the Committees on City, County and Local Affairs; Public Transportation; and Joint Energy; and she was co-chair of the Task Force on Arkansas History Education. In her second term, she was on the Committees on Energy; Public Health, Welfare, and Labor; and State Agencies and Governmental Affairs, as well as the Joint Committee on Constitutional Amendments. In her third term, she was chair of the City, County, and Local Affairs Committee; served on the Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee; and was elected to the Arkansas Legislative Council.
Overbey passed all eight of the bills for which she was the primary sponsor, and every bill she co-sponsored also became an act during her first term. Her legislation in this and subsequent sessions reflected her knowledge of municipal affairs and issues related to procedures of state revenue offices. She passed legislation for clarifying the election procedure for elected municipal offices vacancies (Act 134 of 2011), repealing the statute concerning the process of reactivation of an inactive city or incorporated town (Act 135 of 2011), absentee mayor planning (Act 110 of 2011), penalty reduction for misuse of a dealer’s extra license plate (Act 606 of 2011), amending the temporary preprinted paper buyer’s tags law (Act 351 of 2011), amending the Arkansas Uniform Commercial Driver License Act (Act 352 of 2011), requiring the bonded title process for assembled motor vehicle titles (Act 826 of 2011), and county procedure modernization (Act 837 of 2011).
During her second term (2013–2014), Overbey was the sponsor of Act 1005 of 2013 to phase out isolated school funding under certain circumstances. She was most proud of her legislation helping isolated schools with funding.
Overbey was chair of the City, County and Local Affairs Committee during her third term. She passed city and county legislation clarifying retention of inactive homestead credit documents (Act 71 of 2015), amending the statute concerning officials in certain mayor-council cities (Act 233 of 2015), and amending the law concerning organizational procedures of city councils (Act 235 of 2015). Overbey presented House Memorial Resolution 1001 to honor Representative Sheilla Lampkin of Monticello (Drew County), a House colleague and friend who died of ovarian cancer on July 23, 2016.
Overbey chose not to run for reelection to a fourth term in 2016; however, her husband ran for the seat and lost in the general election. Reflecting on her time in the legislature, she said that she treasured “serving with so many wonderful people and working together to solve problems and better our state.” She noted that she worked well with legislators of all political parties.
In each of her three terms in office, Overbey a received a Distinguished Legislator Award from the Arkansas Municipal League for support of local government.
For additional information:
Massey, Richard. “3 Seek Vacant Seat in House.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Northwest Arkansas section, April 28, 2010, p. 9.
Overby, Betty. “Biographical Information Sheet,” February 9, 2020. Women Legislators Files, Lindsley Armstrong Smith Papers, MC 1910, Mullins Library Special Collections, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
Lindsley Armstrong Smith and Stephen A. Smith
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
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