A historic site, but same old faces, for next week's special session. | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A historic site, but same old faces, for next week's special session.

Posted By on Tue, Jun 24, 2014 at 9:14 AM

BACK IN BUSINESS: Museum will house state House again next week.
  • BACK IN BUSINESS: Museum will house state House again next week.

Legislators seem positively giddy about what's now been confirmed. The Arkansas House, because of work in the chamber, will hold next week's special session at the Old State House. It will be cramped and the promised streaming video probably won't be quite so slick, though a couple of cameras will be working.

Alas, the change of scenery (and let's praise the House leadership for dusting off a museum so the public can see it once in its historic capacity) doesn't change the personnel.

The backslapping over a school insurance "fix" is a case in point. Do you really think you can solve insufficient, overpriced insurance by throwing people off the plan and not putting more state money into it? Do you think a solution is to move money from one school pot to another?

This emergency fix will be replicated sooner rather than later.

Gov. Beebe hasn't issued the call yet, but he's told legislators he expects the meeting to last Monday through Wednesday, with insurance and money for prisons on the agenda.

The Old State House was the Capitol until the current building was finished. It became a museum in 1947. Records say the last session in the building was in 1909, though the "new" Capitol opened in 1912.

The legislature met at the Old State House ceremonially in 1951.

That 1909 session included an act to "prevent mob violence or lynching." It was later ignored. It also allowed train conductors to arrest drunks and outlawed toy pistols, guns and "cannon crackers," or firecrackers. An act also was passed to punish "nightriding."

That gives you a pretty good idea of why it's best not to celebrate too much when the legislature proclaims one historic accomplishment or another.

There will be limited public seating in the House chamber and also in an overflow room. First-come, first-served. The session opens at 4 p.m Monday.

UPDATE: Still no word if the forces anxious to rein in the Arkansas lottery's expansion into video terminal games will succeed in rounding up enough votes. Understand that Oaklawn, the casino in Hot Springs that also runs horses periodically, is behind this. They don't want lottery competition. Some people unhappy with heavy-handed Oaklawn lottery restriction lobbying (think the Mullenix bunch) are talking about a bill to take back the Internet gambling right given to Oaklawn with virtually no debate in 2013. Tit for tat.

UPDATE II: The casino forces tried hard, but failed.

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