Latino-chasing low priority
The legislature approved a controversial bill (now Act 907) to allow the Arkansas State Police to enforce federal immigration laws, but don’t expect to see the troopers engaged in such enforcement anytime soon. A spokesman for Col. Steve Dozier, ASP director, said that the colonel had many things to do after the session, and Act 907 was not a top priority. Some weeks or months from now, the State Police will begin discussions with other agencies on implementation of Act 907, the spokesman said. The law calls for the State Police to enter a memorandum of understanding with the federal Justice Department or the federal Homeland Security Department to enforce federal immigration laws on federal highways and interstates in Arkansas.
It was rumored during the session that the State Police were not enthusiastic about the immigration bill, sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Hutchinson, R-Little Rock, and others. Latino groups opposed the bill, saying that it would discourage the reporting of crimes to the police by Latinos who are in the country illegally. Rep. Jay Bradford, D-Pine Bluff, introduced a bill to prohibit the expenditure of state funds on the enforcement of federal immigration laws, but it failed to pass.
We mentioned recently the high interest from people considering runs for state Rep. Sam Ledbetter’s Little Rock seat. He’s term-limited.
Add this almost certain candidate: Jerry Larkowski, who lives in Briarwood. Larkowski has been a steady hand on the County Election Commission (a seat he’d have to resign to run) as it struggled with the mess created by a certain former county clerk.
Gov. Mike Huckabee pitched his new diet book on the Don Imus radio show Monday and it included this exchange:
IMUS: Because I remember — this has been some years ago — like, you were really fat when we first met you.
HUCKABEE: Oh, yes. I was breaking chairs and that kind of thing.
IMUS: And happy. You were fat and happy.
HUCKABEE: Yes, but you ragged me so bad about it that I went on this guilt trip ...
IMUS: Did I?
HUCKABEE: Yes, really did, and I got on drugs so that I could get skinny ...
IMUS: Anyway, you lost some weight then.
HUCKABEE: Lost a lot.
The questions prompted by this: Is this a confirmation that Huckabee took Redux, fen-phen or another weight-loss drug during his earlier weight-loss? If so, did he get a heart checkup as many did after links between the drugs and heart damage were established? And, finally, if he did take the drugs and he did discover some heart damage, did he seek payments under the structured settlement of a class action lawsuit over the drugs? We sent these questions to the governor’s office. We’d received no response by press time.
The Imus exchange was first reported locally on the Arkansas Daily Blog (www.arkansasblog.com). Among other items first seen there this week:
• The Jimmy Buffett concert at Razorback Stadium June 2, part of the Wal-Mart annual stockholders meeting but open to the public.
• The return to talk radio of Pat Lynch and Ray Lincoln, both as part of wairadio.com, a new Internet radio station due to go “on-air” in Little Rock June 6, the brainchild of radio vet Steve Freeman of Little Rock, who already operates a country Internet station.
• Court of Appeals Judge Wendell Griffen’s planned race for a vacant state Supreme Court seat.
• Mike Hathorn’s official entry into the Democratic race for lieutenant governor.
• A University of Arkansas at Fayetteville memo showing the campus was unhappy that UALR got a big grant for nanotechnology research but UA-F didn’t. The memo said it was one of the few “negatives” of the session for Fayetteville.
• The award given for outstanding debut performances on New York stages to Little Rock native Ashlie Atkinson, for her role in the off-Broadway hit “Fat Pig.”
• A campaign by smoking opponents to get the Little Rock Board of Directors to pass a resolution asking filmmakers to keep cigarettes out of movies targeting the youth market.
The Senate this morning added an amendment to Rep. Charlie Collins campus carry bill that incorporates the effort denied in committee yesterday to require a 16-hour additional training period before university staff members with concealed carry permits may take the weapons on campus.
Old habits die hard. We may have a new Republican majority in the legislature, but like the old Democratic majority, it still doesn't hurt to have a lawmaker spouse to land a part-time job during the legislative session.
When we first asked Gov. Mike Beebe about the "circuit breaker" idea out of Arizona (automatically opting out of Medicaid expansion if the feds reduce the matching rates in the future), he said it was fine but noted that states can already opt out at any time, an assurance he got in writing from the feds.
An interesting controversy is brewing in Conway Public Schools, periodically a scene of discord as more liberal constituents object to the heavy dose of religion that powerful local churches have tried to inject into the schools, particularly in sex education short on science and long on abstinence.