More legislative danger | Arkansas Blog

Monday, March 7, 2011

More legislative danger

Posted By on Mon, Mar 7, 2011 at 2:02 PM

Saggy pants and pistol-packin' parsons are one thing.

But giving a free ride to SWEPCO is another.

We're working to do more reporting on this, but the environmental community is beginning to shout the alarm about this widely supported House bill that would pretty much end judicial review of state agency decisions on power plants. When the poison-spewing coal-burners control the regulatory agencies, but not the courts, you can see why the SWEPCOs of the world would like the change. The bill is a transparent effort to interfere in the ongoing court appeal that has found review of the SWEPCO plant inadequate. It's environmentally hazardous; Arkansas doesn't need it. Thank goodness the courts have been willing to do the job the alleged regulators did not do.

Here's an analysis of the bill from opponents.

The electric co-ops and SWEPCO are singing the bill's praises. Which reminds me that Sandra Hochstetter, then on the PSC, held a virtually secret "needs" hearing on the SWEPCO plant and promptly jumped over to a job with the Co-op, which will own 20 percent of the plant. That smell you smell isn't simply coal burning. It's about overturning the judicial process when it goes against you. This group of legislators may be too stupid and too occupied with trivia to get it.

ELSEWHERE: The anti-abortion bills keep coming, here one to stop any abortions in a state facility — UAMS or state health facilities — except to "avert death" of a mother. No counseling or referrals were possible, including for those difficult cases where a mother might live, but with severe harm, and a fetus has been discovered to have the gravest health problems. This raises questions, too, about the ability of UAMS to adequately instruct medical students in the full range of women's health services. Then there's the question of what a public employee can and must do when faced with a Medicaid patient, who may receive coverage for an abortion (or morning after pill) in the case of rape or incest. If a Medicaid rape victim turns up at a public facility — which is where they most often turn up — Reps. Westerman and Kerr want the law to say, in essence, go to hell.

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