Johnny Key

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Johnny R. Key

Arkansas Education Commissioner
Assumed office 

Arkansas State Senator
for District 17 (Baxter, Marion,
and Boone counties)
In office
Preceded by James Luker
Succeeded by Scott Flippo

Arkansas State Senator
for District 1
In office
Preceded by Shawn Womack
Succeeded by Bart Hester

Arkansas State Representative
for District 81
In office
Succeeded by Karen Hopper

Born December 9, 1968
Arkansas, Clark County, Arkansas, USA
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Shannon L. Key
Children Ryan and Rachel Key
Residence Little Rock, Arkansas

Former residence:
Mountain Home, Baxter County, Arkansas

Alma mater University of Arkansas
Occupation Engineer; Businessman
Religion Assemblies of God

Johnny R. Key (born December 9, 1968) is a Republican politician from Little Rock, Arkansas. From 2003 to 2009, he represented state House District 81. He was elected to the state Senate for District 1 in 2008, a post he held until 2013, when he began representing state Senate District 17, which encompasses Baxter, Marion, and Boone counties in the northwestern portion of his state. He was term-limited in 2014 and could not seek another term in the state Senate. Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson then appointed him as the state education commissioner.[1]

Key formerly resided in Mountain Home in Baxter County, where he operated two locations of the Open Arms Learning Center.


A native of Arkadelphia in South Arkansas, Key graduated in 1986 from Gurdon High School in rural Clark County.[2] In 1991, he obtained a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.[3]

Key and his wife, Shannon L. Key (born 1970), have two children, Ryan and Rachel. He is affiliated with the Assemblies of God Church. He is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and Lions International.[3]

Political life

From 1997 to 2002, Key was a justice of the peace of the Baxter County Quorum Court. In 2002, he was elected to the state House and served three two-year terms in the chamber, including a stint as Minority Leader. In 2008, Key was elected without opposition in the general election to the State Senate form District 1; he was switched to the revised District 17 with the 2012 election, when he again ran unopposed.[4]

Key served on the Arkansas Legislative Council, the Joint Retirement and Social Security Committee, and the Arkansas Lottery Commission Legislative Oversight Committee. His other Senate committee assignments included (1) Budget, (2) Education, (3) Efficiency, and (4) Insurance & Commerce.[2][3] The conservative Key has sponsored legislation to cut in half the sales taxes on groceries and to exempt retirement and pension income from Arkansas state income taxes.[2]

As a civic leader, Key has worked with the interest group, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, to attempt to reduce drinking by teenagers. He successfully supported legislation to create drug courts.[2] In 2011, the Arkansas Pharmacists Association presented Key with the Guy Newcomb Award, named for Guy Newcomb (1928-1985), a pharmacy leader from Osceola, who was the 1968 Republican nominee for Arkansas' 1st congressional district seat.[5]

Key opposes abortion, having voted to ban the practice after twenty weeks of gestation or whenever fetal heartbeat is determined. He opposes allowing abortion to be covered in health-care plans.[6] In 2008, while in the House, he unsuccessfully opposed an increase in natural gas taxes. In 2011, he opposed a bill to ban cell phones in school zones. He voted that same year to require dress codes for public schools.[6]

In 2013, Key joined the Senate majority to amend state income tax rates and to reduce the amount of weekly unemployment compensation benefits. He co-sponsored legislation to test recipients of unemployment compensation for the potential illegal use of narcotics. He voted successfully to override Democratic then Governor Mike Beebe's veto of a bill to require photo identification when one casts a ballot in Arkansas. He voted against legislation to make the office of prosecuting attorney in Arkansas a nonpartisan position. He co-sponsored legislation to permit handguns to be carried on church properties for security purposes and to forbid the release of information on the holders of concealed carry permits. He voted to allow university staff to carry concealed weapons. Key supported legislation to permit the sale of unpasteurized whole milk within his state.[6]


  1. Johnny Key. Retrieved on December 17, 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Biography of the Honorable Johnny Key, Arkansas State Senator. Arkansas State Senate. Retrieved on December 5, 2013; information no longer accessible on-line.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Johnny Key's Biography. Project Vote Smart. Retrieved on December 17, 2020.
  4. Arkansas State Senate elections, 2012. Retrieved on December 17, 2020.
  5. Guy Newcomb Award. Retrieved on December 17, 2020.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Johnny Key's Voting Records. Retrieved on December 17, 2020.