Favorite

Praising Asa 

Let us now praise the governor for a starkly moderate record, at least in comparison with other red-state executives.

click to enlarge BRIAN CHILSON
  • BRIAN CHILSON

A Christmas party this year at a home just a few steps from the Governor's Mansion was something of a group therapy session for the several hundred liberals who dropped by.

Striking, amid the political gloom, was how often people pointed down the block and remarked how the occupant, Republican Asa Hutchinson, had been a bright light.

Yes. Let us now praise the governor for a starkly moderate record, at least in comparison with other red-state executives:

If taxes must be cut again, the governor at least has asked to focus this year on people at the bottom of the income ladder, left out of his first income tax cut.

He fought the ballot initiative on medical marijuana, but now says the voters must be respected and the regulatory process is moving ahead. He also prefers the efficiency of executive rule-making to cope with inevitable glitches, not excessive legislative meddling.

Speaking of legislative meddling: He took state command of Youth Services when lobbyists stopped his effort to contract with a new private operator of lockups. He threatens to ask a court to decide whether the legislature has usurped the executive's power to contract for executive agency services. (I fear a terrible 2014 constitutional amendment may have done just that.)

He's promised greater state attention and even money to the state's ailing foster care system. He's also been careful to withhold judgment so far on some legislative efforts, perhaps well-intentioned, to curb the powers of neutral courts in child placement decisions. The legislation seems overly influenced by a single case, a bad start for law-making.

Time and again, he's been careful on hot-button social issues.

Republican Rep. Charlie Collins wants to force colleges to allow staff to be able to have concealed weapons on campus. Hutchinson, who's been a spokesman for the NRA, said he prefers the current system in which college governing bodies make those decisions.

There's support in the legislature for a bathroom bill to require people to use the restroom that matches their birth gender. Said Hutchinson: "I think the compelling arguments are: One, we don't have a problem. Secondly, we're awaiting more information from the courts and the Trump administration, and I do not believe that we ought to be engaged in legislation when there's not a problem. ... From the solutions I've seen in other states, they can be counterproductive."

He's forthright about the need to end the state's dual observance of the birthdays of civil rights hero Martin Luther King and Robert E. Lee, who fought to preserve slavery. Said Hutchinson: "I've read biographies of Robert E. Lee ... and he was on the wrong side of history. He was on the wrong side of that war. But I think you also have to look at how he tried to join in healing the nation afterwards. I think if Robert E Lee were here today, he would say 'move my birthday, and Dr. King deserves the recognition.'"

He declines to stir the anti-immigrant pot in the brush fire over the potential use of a rural facility in Garland County as a temporary home for displaced immigrant children without documents. He's worked in Homeland Security. He knows these are primarily Central American children fleeing desperate situations. He doesn't see them as a safety risk, any more than the troubled U.S. kids who once used the facility for job training. He also said he looked dimly on legislation to dictate what municipal policies must be in immigrant matters. He said he favors local control.

There's plenty more big stuff, not the least his fight to continue the Obamacare Medicaid expansion here, his promotion of computer education and his fight to end the criminally abused General Improvement Fund allotment of "surplus" money for local pork barrel projects.

I could qualify several of these items. For example, there's some self-interest for the governor budgetarily in keeping expanded health coverage for Arkansas and in doing away with GIF pork barreling. And I expect no moderation on some issues, women's health care, particularly.

But the list of pluses is remarkable, particularly in these dark political days.


Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of Asa Hutchinson

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

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 its 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 Max Brantley

  • 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.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • We're No. 1! in vote suppression

    It's not often that Arkansas can claim national leadership, so give Secretary of State Mark Martin credit for something.

    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Bangin' in LR

    About 2:30 a.m. Saturday, with the Power Ultra Lounge downtown jammed for a rap show by Finese2Tymes (Ricky Hampton of Memphis), gunfire broke out. Before it was over, 25 people had been wounded by gunfire and three others injured in the rush for safety.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
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.
  • Turn to baseball

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

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Turn to baseball

    • leave the rules the way they are. teach players how to hit, don't legislate no…

    • on July 20, 2017
  • Re: Pay attention

    • The beautiful new 12th St. Precinct is full of empty rooms: Why not create a…

    • on July 20, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • Religious charlatans have been around for centuries. They prey on the weak, sick, poorly educated…

    • on July 20, 2017
 

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