Legislative business | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Legislative business

Posted By on Wed, Feb 14, 2007 at 3:08 PM

Well, they've cut taxes by more than $300 million and still nobody's talking about funding education. Oh, there's been talk, but precious little action and legislators still wait for firm allocations of school spending to know how individual districts will be affected. It's becoming more apparent that many legislators believe they've done enough, save some construction spending. That means teachers probably can't expect raises equivalent to what legislators have given themselves already this year. Merit pay turned upside down. Perhaps we should give legislators some standardized tests.

Ethics? Forget about it. No good amendment was added in House Rules Committee today to Sen. Robert Thompson's badly flawed bill to delay the transition from legislator to lobbyist by one year. It was amended to make it crystal clear that it doesn't apply to anyone now serving, unless they are re-elected in  November 2008, meaning the first time this conceivably applies to anyone is 2011. The term-limited people, for certain, can start lobbying as soon as they're done with this term. And you can bet they will. Drinks all around, boys

A bingo enabling act cleared House committee. It's geared more toward a constitutional nonprofit bingo operation, rather than mega-operations run by profit-making outfits from Texas and elsewhere. But they did increase maximum aggregate prizes at a bingo session from $1,500 to $5,000. UPDATE:  Jerry Cox, monitoring gambling for the Family Council, thinks the bill is writtenin such a way as to promote big-time raffles that would be akin to big-prize lotteries. He expects opposition from major gambling interests as a result.

In the Senate, foes of education standards began eating away at existing law. One bill approved in committee would give small districts a tiny loophole not to teach one of the 38 required courses should a class have a single student who moves away. Symbolic, but it'll be a wedge for pleas for more exceptions. Another requires students to be six weeks older to enter kindergarten. The sooner we get kids in school the better.

A Senate committee approved a bill that would allow the governor to split the Health and Human Services Department.


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