Could have been worse 

Until near the end, when Republicans rose up demanding that state government yield to federal bureaucrats, the 2011 legislative session was not as fractured along party lines as observers had feared, though it was still largely disappointing.

Even with the Republicans having achieved near parity in numbers, for the first time in living memory, and thus easily able to block passage of budget bills requiring a three-fourths majority, as most of them do; even with Republicans full of beans after their success in last year's election, clamoring for sharp cuts in both taxes and spending, a policy ruinous for all but the richest Arkansans; even with the first openly Confederate member serving in the House of Representatives, even with all that, most of the routinely essential bills got through, allowing state government to continue functioning. It's something. Congress may not do as well.

The last-minute crisis of partisanship came over the appropriation bill for the state Insurance Department, blocked by Republicans because it included money to set up a health insurance exchange of the sort required by the new federal health care law. "Death Before Obamacare," Republicans cried, and their intransigence eventually resulted in a compromise of sorts: the exchange will be created but by the federal government rather than the state. This meek submission to federal authority should have brought Rep. Loy Mauch to his feet, saber in hand, but the Lincoln-hating, Lee-loving Republican from Bismarck was oddly inattentive as the feds won another one.

Corporations enjoyed their usual hearty dining at the taxpayers' table; they, not political parties, direct legislative actions. The legislators approved bills to lower still further the sales tax on energy used by manufacturers, who already pay a lower rate than residential consumers. Not even an outbreak of earthquakes could persuade the legislature to impose greater supervision on the companies drilling for natural gas in the Fayetteville Shale. Seven regulatory bills were introduced; all failed, as did a bill to collect more severance tax from the gas companies. The legislators approved bills to assist big truckers, at the public schools' expense, and to let polluters re-write state anti-pollution laws. One of the few corporate bills that didn't pass was a Chamber of Commerce proposal to make it more difficult for injured workers to be compensated.

On the brighter side, several malicious anti-abortion bills died in committee, and the legislature declined to force guns into churches or Bibles into schools. There were a few more, but it's a short list.

Still unresolved at press time was the question of congressional redistricting. None of the competing plans offered assurance that the present poor quality of Arkansas's representation would be significantly improved.


From the ArkTimes store


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated itsĀ 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Editorials

  • The end of an era

    We're sad to report that Doug Smith has decided to retire. Though he's been listed as an associate editor on our masthead for the last 22 years, he has in fact been the conscience of the Arkansas Times. He has written all but a handful of our unsigned editorials since we introduced an opinion page in 1992.
    • May 8, 2014
  • A stand for equality

    Last week, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel became the first elected statewide official to express support for same-sex marriage. His announcement came days before Circuit Judge Chris Piazza is expected to rule on a challenge to the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Soon after, a federal challenge of the law is expected to move forward. McDaniel has pledged to "zealously" defend the Arkansas Constitution but said he wanted the public to know where he stood.
    • May 8, 2014
  • Same old, same old

    Remarking as we were on the dreariness of this year's election campaigns, we failed to pay sufficient tribute to the NRA, one of the most unsavory and, in its predictability, dullest of the biennial participants in the passing political parade.
    • May 1, 2014
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
  • Pay attention

    If anyone thinks that a crisis with the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, then he hasn't been paying attention to Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Another Jesus

    • IBS, were you there in Benghazi to personally witness all of Hillary's blunders like you…

    • on July 23, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • If God felt it necessary to replace the ten commandments, he could do it like…

    • on July 23, 2017
  • Re: Football for UA Little Rock

    • He's BSC. Students and tuition-paying parents should be VERY vocal that a football program won't…

    • on July 23, 2017

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation