Favorite

D.C. politics in Arkansas 

The 2013 legislative session, with its first Republican majority, resembled partisan-driven Washington in many ways, though the narrow 51-49 Republican edge in the House forced some bipartisan accommodation.

The bullies of the GOP apparently foresee even better partisan times ahead.

At the state Republican Convention Saturday in Hot Springs, Sen. Bryan King got unanimous approval of a resolution that says House and Senate Republican caucuses should vote for their nominees for speaker and Senate president pro tem and then unanimously support the caucus' choice.

This arises from the election of Republican House Speaker Davy Carter by a solid bloc of Democratic votes and a handful of Republican votes, upsetting GOP Rep. Terry Rice's expected coronation. Republicans have played this game, too. A rump group of them aligned with Democrats to prevent one of their own, Sen. Dave Bisbee, from becoming Senate president pro tem in 2005.

If the caucus demands unanimous votes on leadership, it's a pretty short step from there to demanding unanimous votes on legislation. That's the U.S. House protocol. And it's general Arkansas Republican practice, too, private option excepted. For now.

King favors a legislature in which the majority rules with an iron fist. The minority need not even attend. He's used his co-chairmanship of the Joint Auditing Committee to hound political enemies. He's a member of what now appears to be a controlling Senate minority that could present a legal roadblock to reapproval of the private option version of Obamacare's Medicaid expansion.

King's partisanship doesn't bode well for Arkansas. It means the end of consensus legislation in favor of hyper partisanship. And it will invite debilitating payback from the minority — blockades when possible through the supermajority votes required for some financial legislation.

Of course Republicans just might decide to ignore the rules and challenge opponents to sue when supermajority votes fail — as they did when they unconstitutionally approved a huge fracker tax break for a multinational corporation.

The requirement of party loyalty for legislators works against diversity in party membership, something not lacking on the Democratic side. There's an illustration in Little Rock, where City Director Stacy Hurst is running as a Republican for term-limited Democratic Rep. John Edwards' historically Democratic seat covering the Heights and western Little Rock. She's opposed by Clarke Tucker, a bright young Democratic lawyer.

Hurst, pushed into running as a Republican by tycoon Warren Stephens, probably is the social moderate she claims to be. But can she function as a moderate as a member of the diehard conservative Republican House caucus, now unanimously commanded by the GOP state convention to observe party loyalty?

Would Hurst vote against unconstitutional abortion bills? Would she give a Democratic governor the critical vote to sustain his veto of an unconstitutional frackers' tax break? Would she cast a roll call vote against Republican measures endorsing discrimination against gay people? Will she speak up vigorously against a growing Republican majority speaking ill of Medicaid expansion, an issue worth millions to the giant medical institutions and medical professionals that live in and around her legislative district? Finally, though she vows to be independent, can you believe her given Bryan King's proven record of getting even with those who cross him?

The issue, by the way, is laden with hypocrisy. Back in 2008, rising House Speaker Robbie Wills, a Democrat, helped King raise money against a Democratic opponent because King had supported him in the race for speaker. Wills said he didn't see why partisanship should figure in a speaker's election. King was a happy beneficiary of Wills' broad-mindedness.

But King was in the minority then. And nobody has ever accused him of being broad-minded.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of...

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Executionpalooza

    Appearances count. I was struck by a single sentence over the weekend in a full page of coverage in The New York Times devoted to the killing spree in Arkansas, beginning with a front-page account of the recent flurry of legal filings on pending executions and continuing inside with an interview with Damien Echols, the former death row inmate.
    • Apr 20, 2017
  • Death Row inmates argue to keep stay of execution in place; urge 8th Circuit not to 'rush' analysis

    Early this morning, attorneys for nine Death Row inmates, filed an argument with the 8th United States Court of Appeals contesting the state's effort to override Judge Kristine Baker's order Saturday that halted executions scheduled this month.
    • Apr 17, 2017
  • Federal judge denies execution stay for Don Davis but larger stay continues

    Don Davis, who's been moved to the killing facility of the state prison for killing tonight at 7 p.m. if a stay of execution is lifted in another federal suit, sought a stay in another federal court Sunday, but the request was denied.
    • Apr 17, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Neighborliness, in Little Rock and beyond

    I had a parochial topic in mind this week — a surprise plan by Mayor Mark Stodola to address the Arkansas Arts Center's many needs.
    • Nov 19, 2015
  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016

Most Shared

  • Executionpalooza

    Appearances count. I was struck by a single sentence over the weekend in a full page of coverage in The New York Times devoted to the killing spree in Arkansas, beginning with a front-page account of the recent flurry of legal filings on pending executions and continuing inside with an interview with Damien Echols, the former death row inmate.
  • Art bull

    "God, I hate art," my late friend The Doctor used to say.
  • Not justice

    The strongest, most enduring calls for the death penalty come from those who feel deeply the moral righteousness of "eye-for-an-eye" justice, or retribution. From the depths of pain and the heights of moral offense comes the cry, "The suffering you cause is the suffering you shall receive!" From the true moral insight that punishment should fit the crime, cool logic concludes, "Killers should be killed." Yet I say: retribution yes; death penalty no.
  • Judge Griffen writes about morality, Christian values and executions

    Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, who blogs at Justice is a verb!, sends along a new post this morning.
  • The Ledell Lee execution thread

    Arkansas Times contributor Jacob Rosenberg is at the Cummins Unit in Grady filing dispatches tonight in advance of the expected execution of Ledell Lee, who was sentenced to death for the Feb. 9, 1993, murder of Debra Reese, 26, who was beaten to death in the bedroom of her home in Jacksonville.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Executionpalooza

    Appearances count. I was struck by a single sentence over the weekend in a full page of coverage in The New York Times devoted to the killing spree in Arkansas, beginning with a front-page account of the recent flurry of legal filings on pending executions and continuing inside with an interview with Damien Echols, the former death row inmate.
    • Apr 20, 2017
  • The end of democracy in LR

    The state Board of Education was scheduled to talk this week about the Little Rock School District, under state control for two years because six of its 48 schools failed to meet an arbitrary pass rate on a standardized test.
    • Apr 13, 2017
  • Internet looting continues

    The 2017 legislative session concluded without passage of a bill to encourage internet merchants to collect and remit taxes on sales in Arkansas, though internet giant Amazon has begun doing so voluntarily.
    • Apr 6, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Chuck Haralson and Ken Smith were inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame during the 43rd annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism

Event Calendar

« »

April

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Art bull

    • Well, when the Bull was first put up there, it meant one thing, and that…

    • on April 24, 2017
  • Re: Art bull

    • the nice thing about art is that it is what it is, but what it…

    • on April 22, 2017
  • Re: Executionpalooza

    • Fantastic work-from-home opportunity for everyone... Work for three to five hrs a day and start…

    • on April 21, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation