At the Little Rock school hearing; plus some news on lobbyist wining and dining | Arkansas Blog

Monday, May 2, 2016

At the Little Rock school hearing; plus some news on lobbyist wining and dining

Posted By on Mon, May 2, 2016 at 5:30 PM

I peeked into Sen. Joyce Elliott's hearing shortly after 5 p.m. and there was every indication they'd be going until 6 p.m., with statements from Little Rock School District supporters about the upheaval in leadership.

Benji Hardy is on hand scribbling. Baker Kurrus had spoken by the time I dropped in. A spectator related remarks in a way that sounds as if he's not disputing the circumstances of his departure as described here — Education Commissioner Johnny Key wasn't happy with an employee who'd criticized charter school expansion. But that's my interpretation of another witness' recollection. More later. Key didn't attend, as I'd said incorrectly would happen. He would have met a buzzsaw, I think.

More later, too, on an interesting discussion I'd just heard from House leadership about changes in reporting of lobbyist social events. Lobbyists are now firmly in charge of the social calendar, not staff, through a committee that clears events to avoid duplication and also to help ensure, for the protection of legislators, that notice requirements are met to qualify for free food and drink.

The future for public accountability on social events with legislative committees — as opposed to the whole House and/or Senate — is not promising, but the House leaders said there'd been none during the fiscal session because no standing committees are meeting.

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