At the Arkansas legislature | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

At the Arkansas legislature

Posted By on Tue, Mar 15, 2011 at 12:00 PM

I've been distracted this morning. From the Capitol:

* CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS: Roby Brock reports that a Senate committee has sent just two amendments to the joint committee that will recommend three constitutional amendments. They are: 1) SJR 2 for the legislature to take control of lottery revenue and to take control of the state Highway Commission (the lottery provision was amended out); and 2) SJR 5, another scam to provide tax money to private businesses in the name of redevelopment districts. The TIF boondoggle didn't separate taxpayers from enough money, so now comes Jake Files with another corporate welfare scheme to allow capture of state and local sales taxes to pay for projects in redevelopment districts. It also makes some changes on police and fire pension funds and eases rules on short-term borrowing. I presume the cops and firefighters will be the cover for the corporate welfare schemes. Legislation aimed at achieving this same capture of sales tax revenue for redevelopment has also been introduced and the attorney general has issued an opinion that a legislative approach (as described in a request for an opinion from Files) passes constitutional muster at least insofar as using sales taxes to pay off bonds for improvements of "a public nature." But .... it might be that those hoping for a windfall courtesy of taxpayers would prefer constitutional backing for welfare for all projects. Note some editing to address questions raised by a reader.

* PRISON REFORM: The Beebe initiatives to reshape prison sentences, parole and probation zipped out of House committee today. That means it's just about all over but the shouting. The bill passed the Senate earlier.

* COLD MEDICINE: A House committee beat the bill to require a prescription for common cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, sometimes used to make meth. Still alive is a dubious bill to sell such pills only through pharmacies to people with Arkansas ID.

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