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Houston, we have issues 

Houston, we have issues

As if the word "issue" weren't already badly overused, the legislature is enacting laws to require even more use. This year, for the first time, all the proposals submitted to voters at the general election will be called "issues" on the ballot, rather than constitutional amendments or initiated acts, as was the previous practice.

Asked about the change in wording, the secretary of state's office cited Act 281 of 2009, which says that "Each statewide measure shall be designated on the ballot as an issue, and the issues shall be numbered consecutively, beginning with 'Issue 1' ... " The reason for the change? A secretary of state's spokesman referred that question to state Rep. Kathy Webb of Little Rock, who was the lead sponsor of Act 281.

Webb said the old system allowed for duplication of numbers, and constituents said they were confused by this. For example, an Amendment 1 might be on the ballot along with an Initiated Act 1 and a Referred Act 1. Under the new system, with all proposals called issues and numbered in order, there's no duplication of numbers.

Constitutional amendments proposed by the General Assembly are the first issues listed under the new law, followed by initiated constitutional amendments, statewide initiated acts, referred acts of the General Assembly, questions referred by the General Assembly, and any other measures that might be referred.

Corporatist politicians exposed

Another assessment of Arkansas members of Congress has been published, this one by Public Citizen, one of the feistier public-interest groups and an avowed foe of what it calls "corporatist politicians."

Public Citizen checked how the honorable members voted on four bills supported by Public Citizen and other consumer groups: Wall Street reform, campaign finance reform, energy reform and single-payer, Medicare-for-all health care. Reps. John Boozman of the Third District and Mike Ross of the Fourth District voted a straight corporate line, against all four bills. Rep. Marion Berry of the First District showed almost as much corporate loyalty. He voted against Wall Street reform, campaign finance reform and single-payer health care. He didn't vote on energy reform, but that amounts to a "no" vote.

Boozman, the only Republican in the delegation, is challenging Sen. Blanche Lincoln in the general election. Lincoln and Sen. Mark Pryor both voted for Wall Street reform and campaign finance reform, and against energy reform. Single-payer health care didn't come to a vote in the Senate. Rep. Vic Snyder of the Second District voted for Wall Street reform and energy reform, against campaign finance reform and single-payer health care.

Clinton, Reagan neck and neck

Bill Clinton's and Ronald Reagan's are the presidential libraries that Americans most want to visit, according to a poll done for Vanity Fair magazine, and the two are dead- even.

The Clinton Library in Little Rock and the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif., each received 31 percent of the votes. Jimmy Carter's library was a distant third at 10 percent, and all the others in the poll — George W. Bush's, Richard Nixon's, Gerald Ford's and George H. W. Bush's — were in single digits. The results of the poll, conducted by telephone Sept. 6-8, were published in the November issue of the magazine. The same poll asked respondents to choose one of six nominees as "the most eligible single woman in the world." Jennifer Aniston won with 29 percent of the votes; Elena Kagan finished sixth with 4 percent. We suggest that the name of Alice Walton be added to the list next time.

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