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It was a good week for Regnant Populus 

It was a good week for...

REGNAT POPULUS 2012 The grassroots movement to stiffen state public ethics law got good news this week when the attorney general approved its proposed initiated act. That clears the way for signature gathering for the proposal, which will be on the November ballot if 63,000 valid signatures can be gathered. The proposal would conform state political-finance laws to the federal law by prohibiting direct contributions by corporations and unions to political campaigns. Legislators would have to wait two years, not one, to become a lobbyist after leaving office and the law would prohibit gifts of any value, even so much as a cup of coffee, to legislators.

A SIMPLE-MINDED PLAN The Arkansas House Republican Caucus rolled out its SIMPLE plan to fix Arkansas. It's filled with themes cherry-picked from right-leaning national organizations. The Republican plan would reduce state spending on Medicaid, adopt private school vouchers and greatly reduce the state income tax rate, while not making up the difference, as neighbors such as Texas have, with the likes of higher property taxes, higher corporate taxes and higher severance taxes.

It was a bad week for...

BOBBY PETRINO An Arkansas State Police report contradicted statements by the University of Arkansas and Petrino indicating that the UA football coach was alone when he crashed his motorcycle in Madison County on April 1. The report revealed that Petrino had a rider, a young former UA volleyball player he'd recently hired at $55,700 a year as a player development co-ordinator. Petrino released a statement the night the report was released alluding to a previous "inappropriate" relationship, apparently with Jessica Dorrell, as a reason he'd tried to cover up her presence. At press time, Petrino was suspended without pay awaiting a decision on his fate by UA athletic director Jeff Long.

FRED SMITH Circuit Judge Mary McGowan ruled that former state Rep. Fred Smith is not eligible to run for the House this year. He was a convicted felon at the time the Republican Secretary of State Mark Martin accepted his filing over the objections of the Arkansas Democratic Party. The party sued. Since filing closed, Smith has had his case dismissed because he completed probation on the theft charge. The party contended that didn't clear him from a constitutional deficiency.

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