Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tuesday night line: Gay pride at Walmart, GOP vote suppression strategy

Posted By on Tue, Nov 20, 2012 at 3:41 PM

The line is open. Finishing up:

* GAY PRIDE AT WALMART: KUAF's Jacqueline Froelich reports on the Northwest Arkansas Center for Equality's gala and its honor of "Pride at Walmart," the retail chain's gay employee resource group.

The Blog reported recently that Walmart fell short of a top score in the Human Rights Campaign's annual rating of corporations on equality issues, but it scored well in some areas and scored far higher overall than Tyson Foods and Dillard's. The presence of a gay resource group was one of the points listed in Walmart's favor by HRC. The group is eight years old and speaking to KUAF for the first time. Several dozen Walmart execs were on hand for the gala. The report is a very interesting account of expansion of protections for gay employees at Walmart, despite some public opposition in the past from so-called "Christian" groups. Froelich says there are 600 LGBT employees among Walmart's 5,000 home office employees. Many of them speak up in this piece. Highly recommended.

* BANK ROBBERY IN OTTER CREEK: A Bank of the Ozarks branch, Fox 16 reports.

* YES. LET'S BLAME LOTTERY WOES ON GLOBAL WARMING: Arkansas Lottery Director Bishop Woosley talked to a legislative oversight committee today about lackluster lottery ticket sales. Would you believe hot weather and high gas prices?

* SUSPICIOUS DEATH OF BENTONVILLE SIX-YEAR-OLD: 40/29 reports on the death of a child reported missing this morning in Bentonville and found dead not long after at a house nearby.

* THE ULTIMATE VOTER ID CRAMDOWN: Ernie Dumas, in a column I posted earlier, wrote about the problem with Voter ID laws. They address a non-existent problem and they are designed primarily to suppress minority votes. Ernie also pointed out the difficulty in passing a constitutional Voter ID law because of the Arkansas Constitution's limitation on erecting bars to voting.

SOLUTION: A Democratic legislator said today that Republicans plan to amend the state's organic law — that is propose a constitutional amendment - to enshrine voter discrimination in the Constitution. They control the committees that put three legislative amendment proposals on the ballot and they have majorities in both houses. So a vote would be a sure thing if they go the amendment route. It is possible, still, to violate the U.S. Constitution with such a measure, which is well within the realm of possibility with a bunch that is intent - not on increasing voting - but discouraging it.

With three opportunities to make important changes in the state's foundational law every two years, the new Republican majority apparently intends to use one of the three to score political points and oppress minorities by demagoguing a non-existent problem. Yes, it's already looking just about as bad as I figured.

I'm seeking a copy of the proposal. I wonder if they'll try to legalize a poll tax. I'm also taking ideas for other critical constitutional amendments. Perhaps Republicans could propose one to make Chick-fil-A the official state food.

On a more serious note: After early polling in favor of the idea, Minnesota voters defeated an effor there to put Voter ID in their constitution. It ended up being beat handily, but Democrats mobilized against it. I'm guessing, given the extremism of the Arkansas Republican majority, that we can expect something like this from Minnesota:

Minnesota's amendment would have needed enabling legislation to be implemented, but as written it would have been among the most stringent systems in the nation. Known as "strict photo ID," it would have required a voter without a valid photo ID to cast a provisional ballot and return within a certain amount of time with proper ID to have his or her vote counted.

If Minnesota were to implement strict photo ID, it would become the first state with Election Day registration to adopt such a system, and it would be the second to put voter ID in its constitution rather than in law. (Mississippi is the other; its law is not yet in effect because it requires implementing legislation and federal approval.)

God, yes. We must keep up with Mississippi.

And, yes, the Minnesota proposal had ALEC's fingerprints all over it.

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