Tagged: Arkansas Legislature

The Circle Won’t Be Broken: Beebe Sings Bass, Searcy Paper Sings Tenor

Well, a story in today’s Searcy paper is raising some eyebrows:  Governor Beebe now says he “won’t push” for the Searcy bypass project.

This comes after Judge Lincoln told voters last week that Beebe played a role in crafting his failed tax plan to fund White County’s portion of the project.  According to Lincoln, “Governor Beebe wanted us to form a strategic plan, and the tax/bypass was part of our strategic plan.”

So what gives?

From the story:

“I’m obviously for the Searcy bypass project, but I’m not going to ask the highway department to spend money they don’t have.  If they don’t have the money, they’ll have to make adjustments.”

He went on to say, he really should stay out of it because it’s not really any of his business, but he’s involving himself anyway:

“I’m not in any position to rank all the highways in the state of Arkansas.  That’s what the highway commission is for. Obviously, I have a little prejudice in favor of Searcy because that’s where I’m from, but I still have to govern the whole state.”

And while staying out of it, Governor Beebe added:

“It’s really sad. It’s sad for Searcy. It’s sad for any projects around the state.”

So, to summarize:  He’s going to stay out of it because he’s not really in any position to rank the projects, but he fully supports the project, but he’s not going to add any pressure to the commission to do the project, but he does have prejudice in favor of Searcy, and he’s going to stay out of it, but it’s really sad for Searcy.

And believe it or not, this is all those evil Republicans’ fault because they blocked the trucker tax exemption repeal!  Specifically, the governor says it was Searcy’s Senator Jonathan Dismang’s fault.  How convenient, seeing as how one of Beebe’s friends is running against Dismang this year.

Two entities deserve to be scolded for this joke of a political move.  First of all, the governor.  What the heck, dude?  Jerking your hometown around like this?  You’re using a local hot potato issue and holding it over the heads of Searcy citizens to bully votes out of Senator Dismang and/or to punish him.  Of course this is nothing new–politicians have playing these games for years.  But this is a reach, even for you and besides, I thought you were against DC politics?

Governor Beebe admits himself he has no control over this issue, and he should probably stay out of it, so he should do it.  All indications from the state–except from the governor himself, of course–are that the project will go forward.  He is beating a dead horse, and a controversial one at that.  This is politics at its worst.

Secondly, shame on our beloved Searcy paper.  They continue to sing right along with the Democrats’ narrative.  They are accepting Governor Beebe’s premise that the project remains in peril because of conservative efforts to stabilize the state budget and framing these issues in such a manner that reflect poorly on Senator Dismang.  They want to continue the work that they started against me and other local conservatives last fall:  “Evil, heartless conservatives are the ones who are holding this bypass project back.  Conservatives are the ones holding back ‘progress.'”

What the paper is doing is shameless.  They’re giving Governor Beebe a pass on provably false statements so they can continue to advance the narrative that conservatism hurts progress.

If I had made the same types of false statements that the governor made, I would be ridiculed and mocked, disparaged as a ‘local conspiracy theorist.’  But the paper doesn’t question the governor because his comments advance their agenda of silencing conservative voices & distorting the truth.

I’m not sure who is singing the lead, but there’s no disputing that the paper and Governor Beebe are singing the same song.

I have contacted Senator Dismang for comment, as well as Searcy city officials.  We’ll keep you posted.

We Passed! Arkansas Gets D+ For Government Integrity

The headline speaks for itself and as one of Arkansas’ finest legislators, Rep. Andrea Lea, told KARN’s Donna Kelley:

“It’s not surprising.  Disappointing, but not surprising.”

There is a little hope that Arkansas’ score might see an increase in the future with the state’s online checkbook reportedly scheduled to launch in July.  But anytime New Jersey, Illinois, & Louisiana score ahead of your state on an ethics rating, you tend to worry.

Some of the factors in the score were “Public Access to Information” & “State Pension Fund Management.”  Arkansas received an ‘F’ in both categories.

Here’s a really neat-0 chart from State Integrity Investigation that shows how Arkansas was scored and why (click on the image to visit SII’s website & see how each score was determined):

 

Nic Horton

Arkansas Republican Policy Platform Starts to Take Shape

I popped into the White County Republican Women’s meeting on Tuesday evening to hear State Rep. Mark Biviano unveil part of the House Republicans’ platform for next year’s general assembly.  Biviano is serving as Policy Director for the House GOP caucus. (Minority Leader Bruce Westerman told me earlier this week that the full platform will be unveiled by the end of the month)

So, here’s a sneak peek at some of what we should see on the Republican platform in a few weeks:

1. Reigning in Government Spending.  Biviano said, “We can’t keep growing government and expect taxpayers to keep paying the bill.”  He added that a big part of reigning in spending is transparency: “The people deserve to know the good news & the bad news.”  That’s change I can believe in right there.

Biviano cited the shortfalls in the Forestry department, the unemployment overpayments, and the increased projected shortfalls in the state’s Medicaid program as prime examples of how a little transparency could go a long way:  “I learned about the increased projected shortfalls in Medicaid the same time y’all did, when I read the paper.”  This is a serious problem that is rampant throughout the state government:  shortfalls are being hidden for political purposes, and we, the taxpayers, are paying for it.  Literally.

Biviano said reigning in government spending also includes implementing performance-based budgeting for state agencies.  This system would give departments increases (or decreases) based on their performances, rather than across the board increases because ‘the governor said so.’

2. Tax Reform.  Biviano said tax reform in Arkansas starts with eliminating the capital gains tax to encourage growth in the state. (click here to read a recent report from Goldwater Institute about the positive effects of such a repeal)

3. Fixing Medicaid.  Biviano said Republicans wanted to use the state’s surplus from this year to cover the shortfalls in the program, but the governor did not want to listen.  I would expect, and hope, that Republican solutions to the crisis will look something like this.

4. Protecting Arkansas’ Future.  This part of the platform includes more pro-life legislation, which may include (if I understood correctly) a fetal pain bill.

Protecting the future also means reforming unemployment benefits & instituting voter ID requirements in the state, said Biviano.  Biviano said we need drug testing before Arkansans can receive unemployment benefits, as well as some non-prohibitive voter ID requirement to prevent voter fraud in our state.

5. Educational Excellence.  Biviano started by setting the record straight on Arkansas’ standing in education:

Despite what you may read in the papers, we rank 45th in the ability to achieve.  50% of Arkansas high school graduates have to take additional coursework before college.

I am a believer in school choice.  It’s in our best interest as a state to put our students where they can succeed.

Biviano also added that we spend more than $11,000 per student in Arkansas which is more than enough to cover the cost of private education. (I believe when I was in private high school the tuition was right around $5,000 per year, or less than half what the taxpayers are currently paying–and I believe I got a better return on my investment)

And this is just the preview!  This is very exciting for idea-oriented conservatives across the state.  And even aside from the content, which is excellent, it’s just a great idea for the caucus to present a detailed, no-nonsense plan like this to the voters.  It’s a ‘contract with America’ approach that is bold, clear, and principled.

If they stick to it, it’s a winner for Republicans and a winner for Arkansas.   It will resonate with voters.  It already is.

Nic Horton

AR Democrats Offer Fred Smith $3,000 to Drop Election Bid

ImageOn Thursday, after news broke that former state rep. Fred Smith had filed to once again seek office, state Democrat Party chairman Will Bond told reporters that Smith’s filing fee would not be refundable if he were found ineligible (Smith resigned after being found guilty of a felony conviction last year & Arkansas law prohibits him from being able to hold state office with a criminal record).

From the Associated Press:

Bond says he told Smith that he would have to forfeit his $3,000 filing fee if he’s found to be ineligible.

But yesterday, news broke that the state Democrats have now offered to refund Smith’s filing fee if he will drop out.  From KATV:

Party spokeswoman Candace Martin said Monday that the party sent the letter to former state Rep. Fred Smith’s attorney and has offered to refund his filing fee if he resigns from running.

I’m not sure what political impact this development really has, but it should tell you just how bad the Dems want Smith off the ballot.  They know he’s going to be a political scapegoat for Republicans in the state, despite the fact that he has no Republican challenger.  And we know how much Democrats hate Tim Tebow, who Smith equated himself with last week.

We’ll see how long Smith holds on.

 

Nic Horton

Arkansas House Candidate Pledges to Donate First Year’s Salary if Elected

ImageCandidate for Arkansas House District 70 Price Dooley (R-Conway) has pledged to introduce ‘the toughest ethics legislation in Arkansas history’ if elected to the state’s ruling body. He has also pledged to donate his first year’s salary to a Conway nonprofit–a refreshing “money where your mouth is” approach.

In a speech to the Faulkner County Republican Women last week, Dooley said,

Our state is facing a potentially crippling issue that needs to be addressed to restore the trust that Arkansans have placed in their elected officials. In my first sixty days as your representative I will introduce the toughest ethics legislation in Arkansas history. A comprehensive plan that will address legislative conduct, reduce legislative salaries, and deal decisively with legislative compensation. Additionally, I will donate my legislative salary, in year one, to Bethlehem House here in Conway, to set an example for leadership. It’s the right thing to do to restore your trust in our democratic process.

Nic Horton

Debt Relief Amendment Pulled, Moved to Interim Study

I have so much to cover, including some local stuff, but so little time.  However, I want to start by taking just a minute to weigh on some developments that happened in Little Rock yesterday.

In case you haven’t heard, Senator Jason Rapert announced yesterday that he planned to pull SJR 1 or the National Debt Relief Amendment.

Rapert’s campaign tells me that all of the Republicans on the State Agencies Committee were in support of the bill, but they could not get any Democrats to break ranks with their party and move the bill to the floor.  There remained one legislative option to advance the bill–forcing a floor vote–but the campaign says the senator has ‘too much respect for the institution’ to enact such a tactic, one that has been compared to the U.S. Senate’s ‘nuclear option.’

In a statement, Rapert said:

Despite a bipartisan group of 47 members supporting SJR 1 in the General Assembly, and growing national support to address the out of control federal debt, we could not overcome the partisan divide of the Senate State Agencies Committee with only a few days left in the fiscal session.  SJR 1 has achieved a positive result in that more people are focused on the issue of the national debt, how the debt affects hardworking Arkansas taxpayers, and the constitutional options granted to states by our Founding Fathers.

While NDRA has passed two states, been introduced in Congress, and would have passed the Arkansas Senate had it been brought to the floor, I respect the institution of the Senate and will let this bill run its course through regular order instead of putting the chamber through the painful process of a floor vote to extract it forcibly from committee when we have much bigger issues like the $400 million Medicaid shortfall facing our state.

This is yet another example of the Democrats’ unwillingness to compromise or even consider out-of-the-box solutions to problems we face in the state.  This is also a real loss for the taxpayers:  this was our best chance to reign in federal spending.

Despite the misinformation/fear-mongering campaign that was waged by Paulbots & Secure Arkansas, SJR 1 called for an amendment convention, not a ‘constitutional convention’ as they were inaccurately saying.  As Advance Arkansas Institute and others stated, this would not have been a ‘free for all’ assault on the U.S. Constitution.  It would have been a meeting for a specific purpose, limited in scope, and anything that came out of the convention would have had to go before the states for ratification, just like any constitutional amendment.

I’m not sure what these groups accomplished by siding with Democrats in a misinformation campaign against one of Arkansas’s most conservative legislators and a downright constitutional idea to reign in federal spending, but I hope they’re happy.  The taxpayers will now suffer the result.

I commend Senator Rapert & his co-sponsors, including Rep. Mark Biviano, for their courage & leadership on this issue.  The only way we’re ever going to reign in the federal government is through state-based solutions.  I am very thankful we have some members of the state legislature that understand this and are willing to fight to make it happen.

It also shows real leadership that Senator Rapert was willing to drop this issue for now and focus on a more pressing issue for the state at this time, our imminent Medicaid crisis.  With constitutional conservative fighters like Senator Rapert, I am confident we can avoid disaster, but it will not–and should not–be through tax increases.  It’s going to take cuts.  Will Democrats work with Republicans to solve the crisis, or will they continue to refuse to compromise?

 

Nic Horton

10 Facts to Rebut the Mythology of a ‘Runaway Constitutional Convention’

The other evening, after posting my article “Why A Constitutional Convention May Not Be As Scary As You Think,” someone tweeted me & told me that an “Article V convention is unconstitutional.”

It immediately became abundantly clear to me that we have a lot more educating to do on this issue if we ever want to see an Article V convention to adopt something of vital importance like, say, a National Debt Relief Amendment.

I did some more snooping around at RestoringFreedom.org & uncovered another great resource from Goldwater Institute called, “10 Facts to Rebut the Mythology of a ‘Runaway Convention.’ “

Below are the first 5 facts.  #1 is perhaps the most important because it establishes the fact that an Article V convention–which is what the NDRA movement is calling for–is not actually a constitutional convention:

  1. Article V does not authorize a constitutional convention; it authorizes a convention for proposing specific amendments.
  2. When the Founders drafted the U.S. Constitution in 1787, they specifically rejected language for Article V that would have allowed the states to later call for an open convention.
  3. Thirty eight (38) states must ratify any proposal from an amendments convention, requiring a broad consensus that makes sure an amendments convention cannot “runaway.”
  4. The limited scope of an amendments convention is underscored by the fact that it specifically says amendments cannot alter the equal number of votes for each state in the U.S. Senate without the consent of the affected state. This establishes that an Article V convention couldn’t simply rewrite the entire Constitution.
  5. The states define the agenda of an amendments convention through their applications for the convention and through the commission of delegates. Amendments conventions can be limited to specific topics.

Read the other 5 facts here and if you have friends who are espousing irrational fears about an Article V convention, share this document with them.

We have a responsibility to fight misinformation with truth.

Nic Horton