Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The war on the poor continues

Posted By on Tue, Apr 2, 2013 at 7:11 AM

Some odds and ends to start the day.

* THE WAR ON THE POOR THROUGH PAYDAY LENDING: Is it really a surprise that a gang of Republican lawmakers is trying again to open the legal door to bring the blood-suckday payday lending industry back into Arkansas? What's surprising is that the bill doesn't enjoy the endorsement of every single member of the Republican Caucus, which just voted to punish the poor with a new Voter ID Act aimed precisely at discouraging the poor disproportionately from getting to the polls.

The bill, SB 900, the work of so-called ultraconservative Sen. Jon Woods, is before committee today. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, to his credit, will be on hand to oppose it along with the AARP. Said McDaniel:

We are closely monitoring Senate Bill 900, which potentially would make it easier to allow payday lenders to re-enter the state and offer high-interest loans that harm consumers. I would oppose any measure that could lead to changes in a constitutional usury limit that has been set by Arkansas voters.

You want to see special interests at work? Just give a gander at only Jon Woods' final campaign contribution report, an honor roll of special interest money, including Kochs, installment lenders, financial houses and lobbyists whose work includes the blood-sucking industry. And this is but the final in a string of reports full of special interest money reported by Woods, who positioned himself as the conservative alternative in a hot primary race against another Republican candidate. Remember: don't confuse Arkansas conservatism with populism. Comfort the rich is Commandment 1.

* HOW DID THE ARK. GUN NUTS MISS THIS ONE? A Georgia town has made gun ownership mandatory. How did the Guns AR US lobby in the Arkansas legislature miss this good idea? Surely it could be grafted onto one of the pending gun bills. And we could go the Georgia town one better by not allowing an opt-out. This would be even more evidence for House Speaker Davy Carter's outreach to gun manufacturers that this is a gun haven.

WHO;S A FOOL? Rep. John Payton
  • WHO'S A FOOL? Rep. John Payton
* LET US PRAY: The legislature has passed a mandatory minute of silence law for Arkansas public schools. Of course it is intended to encourage prayer to the extent legally possible. A blog fulminates on the subject a bit here. What's rich though, is the reprint of an e-mail between an Arkansas constituent who wrote a reasonable argument against the legislation on behalf of non-believers who face harassment in school for departing from prevailing religious norms. Nobody would expect an Arkansas legislator to agree with this point of view. But maybe they could have done a little better in response than Rep. John Payton, whose email reportedly said:

Romans 1:19-25 and Psalm 14:1 address your concern.

Same message in each Biblical citation. The Psalm version:

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God

Comments the Patheos blog:

So allow me to recap: A concerned mother writes to her state representatives urging them not to vote for legislation that will inevitably lead to the bullying of her atheist child… and one of the representatives writes back to say the eight-year-old girl is a fool with a darkened heart for not believing in God.

The blogger thinks Payton, a Republican from Wilburn who provides links on his website to the King James Bible, should be rebuked by his colleagues. Advice: Don't hold your breath.

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