Friday, September 16, 2016

Legislative overreach again: This time in children's services

Posted By on Fri, Sep 16, 2016 at 7:24 AM

SEN. ALAN CLARK: Wants legislative review of child services cases.
  • SEN. ALAN CLARK: Wants legislative review of child services cases.
Another outrage in the morning paper was the continued assault on child protective services by Sen. Alan Clark of Hot Springs. Praise where due for Sen. Missy Irvin in pushing back.

Boiled down: Clark doesn't like the way the state handles some  decisions involving children in bad family situations. He knows better than trained professionals and neutral judicial fact-finders.

Clark wants a legislative review process by which lawmaker should be able to review these things on a cases-by-case basis.

Why not? Legislators have already usurped the executive power by requiring legislative review of all executive agency decisions. They have threatened to impeach judges for decisions they don't like and have sufficiently cowed many in the appellate judiciary to get what they want in most cases anyway.

Why not let Alan Clark meet on a case-by-case basis on child custody? On police and prosecutors' criminal charging decisions? On every Public Service Commission decision? On hunting license fees and duck bag limits? On Highway Department allocations of slurry seal?

Sadly, Alan Clark is not alone in disdain for a three-branch government. This just happens to be the worst in human cost, because it involves vulnerable children and putting a legislator in charge of decisions best left to trained professionals.

Sen. Missy Irvin isn't a shining light on separation of powers generally. But she stood out yesterday. She called Clark down for badgering a witness and suggested that the committee move on. The legislature has a former Republican member, Kelley Linck, in a lobbyist role at DHS. Gov. Asas Hutchinson controls the agency from top to bottom. There's ample fear already that the dark impulses of the legislature already have too much influence.

Clark was dissuaded from going totally public with what apparently amounted to an aunt's complaint about a child placement decision. But he nonetheless shared private information about the child with legislators anyway. The information would seem to be protected by law from disclosure.

What's lacking here is oversight of legislators. And maybe a good lawsuit or other legal action.


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