The House met briefly this afternoon at the Old State House to being a three-day special session. The Oaklawn bill to limit lottery expansion, amended to have temporary effect until March, cleared House committee without opposition.
Today on our program: Tom Cotton says he thinks the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling is great. The Arkansas General Assembly appears to have reached a compromise on legislation that will limit the Arkansas lottery from expanding into video-style games. Staffers for the Arkansas lieutenant governor's office end their time doing nothing. And more.
Hobby Lobby, which won a Supreme Court ruling that it need not cover certain forms of birth control, invests its retirement money in funds whose holdings include makers of those forms of birth control, as well as insurance companies that cover abortions.
At this minute, multiple sources tell me this is the deal for the fight over the Oaklawn casino-backed effort to prohibit the Arkansas lottery from beginning electric monitor-provided keno-style games, now set for late September:
Legislation to ban the games will pass, but it will include a sunset provision in March 2015.
The lieutenant governor's office shuts down today, though its $300,000-a-year staff has had nothing to do for five months, since Mark Darr's resignation. Some will head to other state jobs, though the only staff member we can reach doesn't want to talk about what those jobs are.
The U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling today in the lawsuit by Hobby Lobby to deny coverage of certain types of contraceptives (including the Plan B morning after pill) in its employee health insurance plan.
I got two reports last night of robocalls urging calls to Little Rock City Board members to vote Tuesday night against the proposal for a MAPCO gas station at the dangerous Third and Broadway intersection, near the heart of the city/county government and convention district.
Protesters greeted Tom Cotton today at an event held by the Foreign Policy Initiative, the neocon think tank founded by Cotton cheerleaders Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan, called (of course) "Will Congress provide for the Common Defense? National Security priorities in an increasingly dangerous world."
I'm at anchor on a ship lying off Grand Turk Island, and I should have known better than to pick up the digital Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, particularly given the painfully slow download time on the ship's satellite Internet. But I did and began a slow burn.
Here are a couple of earthshaking developments: It turns out that Hillary Clinton is obsessed with privacy and that across the years former U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers detected ethical failings in other politicians, even friends like Bill and Hillary Clinton.
The manufacture and dissemination of didactic fables pleasing to the viewing audience is what many journalists do. And that's becoming almost as true at MSNBC as at Fox News. Particularly in stories involving race and sex, that is to say, a lot of them.
At a press conference today, Chad Griffin, Arkansas native and president of the Human Rights Campaign, the country's largest LGBT advocacy group, announced that his organization will run a full-page ad (see below) in the San Jose Mercury News, Silicon Valley's largest paper, suggesting that Arkansas is closed for business due to HB 1228, the discriminatory, anti-gay measure making its way through the legislature. It could be up for consideration by the Senate today.
Oh dear. Paradigm of conservative cultural authenticity, Phil Robertson, patriarch of A&E's "Duck Dynasty," conjured up a gruesome fantasy of the rape and torture of an atheist family in a speech to the Vero Beach Prayer Breakfast, later broadcast on the “Trunews” radio program by host Rick Wiles.
Tippi McCullough, president of the Arkansas Stonewall Democrats, sends along a statement excoriating Arkansas legislators for moving forward on Rep. Bob Ballinger's discriminatory HB 1228. She also notes that Ballinger, who previously said he would debate the merits of HB 1228 in a public forum, hasn't responded to a number of attempts to schedule the debate.
Bring on the court challenges! Someone or another got to Democratic Sen. David Burnett and he flipped, caving and providing the needed fifth vote to pass a couple of Jerry Cox specials out of committee: HB1228, the so-called "conscience protection" bill from Bob Ballinger which would ensure protection for legal discrimination against gay people and SB939, the bill from Sen. Jason Rapert mandating that the Secretary of State build a monument commemorating the Ten Commandments on the Capitol grounds.
The House committee on Public Health this morning voted to pass a bill that would require the Department of Workforce Services to create a pilot program to drug test people who receive benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program, or TANF.