Political Animals discuss lottery | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Political Animals discuss lottery

Posted By on Wed, Feb 18, 2009 at 1:33 PM

The Political Animals Club hosted an "Arkansas Legislative Panel" today at the governor's mansion.  Speaker of the House Robbie Wills and President Pro Tem of the Senate Bob Johnson were the honored guests.  A panel discussion between the two was moderated by Bill Simmons, the political editor of the Democrat-Gazette.  Topics of discussion included the animal cruelty legislation passed earlier in the session, what to do about health insurance for teachers, the grocery tax (both think it will pass) and, of course, the lottery.  

Simmons asked if Lt. Gov. Halter's role in the implementation of the lottery had been overestimated.  Johnson said it was important for anyone who introduces an initiative to have "skin in the game" which Halter obviously does.  He went on to say that people recognize Halter as the "titular head of the Arkansas lottery," but once the initiative passed the responsibility to set it up shifted to the legislature.  Wills agreed. 

Both answered criticism that plans for the lottery were devised as part of a "back-room deal."  "If this was a back-room deal," Johnson said, "then what we're releasing today wouldn't be a draft, but the actual bill."  Wills said that everyone will have input on the legislation.  The speaker was no doubt responding to criticism by some (including here) that lottery vendors had seen some of the "language" of the bill before the public or even a majority of those in the legislature.   

Johnson said he expects "less of a food fight than what the media and others have predicted" when the first half of the draft bill is presented during a joint meeting of the House Rules Committee and the Senate State Agencies Committee later today (2:30 in the Old Supreme Court Room at the capitol).  The meeting is open to the public.  

The two legislators also talked about what could be done to help teachers pay for increasing health insurance costs.  Wills noted up-front that both of his parents were public school teachers.  He said if the legislature could not solve the problem with teachers' health insurance, then good teachers would simply leave the state.  "We're going to see how our revenue holds up and try to deal with this issue" in order to help current and retired teachers.  When Simmons asked if Wills was willing to concede that nothing might happen in this session, Wills was reluctant to go that far.  "It's a goal," he said, "and we're going to find a solution to stop the bleeding."  Johnson said he wasn't sure the legislature would be able to act on the issue before the session ends.  "Outside of tracking down some federal stimulus money, I'm not sure we can do it," he said. 

When asked about cutting the grocery tax, Wills said he was confident they could find the 51 votes needed in the House and scraping those votes together would be much easier than finding the 75 required for the passage of the cigarette tax.  He did say, however, that reducing taxes would depend on the economic environment.  "We want to take the time to review our fiscal situation when we get the latest information," Wills said.  "Then we'll go from there."


From the ArkTimes store


Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Gerard Matthews

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • In the margins

    A rediscovered violin concerto brings an oft-forgotten composer into the limelight.
  • Donald Trump is historically unpopular — and not necessarily where you think

    My colleagues John Ray and Jesse Bacon and I estimate, in the first analysis of its kind for the 2018 election season, that the president's waning popularity isn't limited to coastal cities and states. The erosion of his electoral coalition has spread to The Natural State, extending far beyond the college towns and urban centers that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. From El Dorado to Sherwood, Fayetteville to Hot Springs, the president's approval rating is waning.
  • Arkansans join House vote to gut Americans with Disabilities Act

    Despite fierce protests from disabled people, the U.S. House voted today, mostly on party lines, to make it harder to sue businesses for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Of course Arkansas congressmen were on the wrong side.

Most Viewed

  • Another Trump propagandist from Arkansas gets blasted

    If Sarah Huckabee Sanders is Donald Trump's Baghdad Barbie, spouting implausible statements in support of her boss in the style of Saddam's Baghdad Bob, then let's make El Dorado native Hogan Gidley Baghdad Ken.

Most Recent Comments


© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation