I have a suggestion for Gov. Hutchinson, who, at this writing, has yet to issue his formal call for a special legislative session this month. He will ask the General Assembly to approve a multi-million dollar bond issue to help a big defense company win an even more valuable contract to build armored vehicles at its Camden plant.
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So it appears we are going to have a special session of the General Assembly later this month. Fine, if you believe that “economic development incentives,” as they are sometimes termed, to private industry bear fruit sufficient to outweigh the costs. Or not so fine, if you’re among those who regard such state subsidies to be “corporate welfare,” in the words of one (Republican) member of the legislature.
There was at least one wheelchair, a chariot for a retired judge. And at least one walker, for the eminence grise of the state’s largest law firm. There were several canes steadying several other attorneys, or their wives, all of or about the same generation. And if the honoree darted about with the vitality of a man half his 85 years and displayed the mental agility of a promising first-year law student, well, he was not immune to such afflictions as might bedevil his grandchildren: a palm and forearm sheathed in elastic bandage, a poultice for a persistent bone and tendon issue.
About a dozen years ago, a survey left the Arkansas legal establishment beaming.
Had I known the Florida legislature was in session would I have chosen the Cactus League over the Grapefruit for a pre-season look at the majors?
A curious situation: State Rep. Justin Harris of West Fork says he has done nothing illegal, his colleagues agree he has done nothing illegal, as does Governor Hutchinson; the Department of Human Services says there’s nothing illegal about what Harris did, and no officer of the court — attorney, prosecutor, judge — can cite a statute that says it is illegal.
Thoughts on the news:
He signed it, Governor Hutchinson — possibly amused, perhaps a bit chagrined, though maybe in total agreement. Whichever, House Bill 1044 is now law.
The gentleman from Gravette, Jim Hendren, who sits for District 2 in the Arkansas Senate, and who helped Gov. Asa Hutchinson, his uncle, persuade fellow Republicans in the General Assembly to extend for about another two years the Private Option medical coverage program — Jim Hendren has a message for anyone who thinks the issue is settled, done, now and forever.
Go back a couple weeks, to Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s inaugural: the previous Republican governor, Mike Huckabee, observed to a reporter that every governor can expect a honeymoon. And then joked that every governor can expect the honeymoon to end after one day.
From the new Asa Hutchinson administration, two crucial documents over six days. The first: the governor’s long-awaited decision on the Private Option, or Obamacare — Arkansas-style. The second: Mr. Hutchinson’s proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. In order:
I have never met Jermain Taylor, to my knowledge have never been in a room with him, but I stood up for him once, in this space, about six years ago.
The morning after J. William Fulbright’s crushing defeat in 1974 I encountered one of the senator’s aides and, to my surprise, found him in good spirits. The old man was fine, too, he smiled. “If you lose by a few thousand votes you’ll never sleep again, wondering what you might have done differently,” the Fulbright assistant instructed. “If it’s two-to-one, you know there’s nothing you could have done.” The lesson: if you have to lose, lose big.
Jeb Bush gave his party a Christmas present the other day. Some of its faithful will regard it as a pony, others a bag of switches. Bush confirmed he was running for president of the United States. Actually, he announced he had formed a Leadership PAC (political action committee), which is a kind of presidential exploratory committee. It allows an individual to run for president and solicit money without formally declaring as a candidate. Such is the law.
What politicians say can be important. Where they say it, meaning to whom they say it, can be just as important. Note, also, at what they don’t say, or skip over. In two speeches over three days, Governor-elect Asa Hutchinson has signaled, in language that seems as solid as his November margin, that he wants to retain the most controversial component of Arkansas public policy. He did so with scarcely a mention of the Private Option but repeatedly emphasized tax cuts.
OMAHA, Neb. – I have three grandchildren. Medicare is on the horizon. I also have a wife who, thankfully, refuses to surrender her youth, and if I must surrender mine I shall do so reluctantly. So I am attending my first rock concert.
At precisely 10 o’clock on the morning of November 24, the Arkansas Department of Correction had 18,177 inmates. Well, technically; 2,477 of them were on hold, as it were, in county jails across Arkansas until space could be made for some of them in one of the state’s kicks. That will be soon, because a few minutes earlier the Board of Correction invoked the oft-used Emergency Powers Act, making 651 non-violent offenders nearing the end of their sentences eligible for early release. While they were at it the board pulled the “one-year trigger,” which would set free, 12 months ahead of schedule, some other inmates who’ve been well-behaved while serving time for something other than violent crimes or sex offenses. Which will leave a thousand or more prisoners in county custody.
“The sky is not falling,” insisted Jessica DeLoach, who immediately allowed that, “Maybe I’m being a bit naïve.”
November 4, 2014, will be remembered as the worst night for Democrats in Arkansas since President Lincoln decided to humor his wife with an evening at the theater, which brought about a Reconstruction he neither envisioned nor desired. For the foreseeable future, Republicans will celebrate this year’s election as the day Reconstruction II began.
Memorandum for: Arkansas’s Next Governor
There’s time, admittedly not much, but time remaining in Arkansas’ U.S. Senate campaign to add an issue to the agenda, or at least propose one. It hasn’t come up because no one has brought it up, not even that segment of the Arkansas electorate — farmers — who would stand to gain from a serious discussion of: Cuba. More narrowly, our nation’s embargo on the sale of commodities, among other restrictions, to that little island, 90 miles from Florida’s tip.
FAYETTEVILLE — It’s a win if Arkansas loses to Alabama by one point, especially in a drizzle that makes the pigskin as slippery as a hog slathered in Crisco. It’s a loss for ‘Bama if it defeats Arkansas by a single point, fair weather or foul, be it a rebuilding year (for either squad) or still another season of Tuscaloosa dominance. So the Razorbacks could claim a moral victory after a soupy October 11 while ‘Bama had to settle for — victory.
You were wondering how long it would take to put on the show?
Which candidates in Arkansas, which party, has the momentum in the contests for statewide office? It used to be called “Big Mo” but in our species never-ending quest for abbreviation, it’s now shortened to simply “mo.”
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — “Tell us about your Senate race,” asks my friend John Marino. His wife, Sharon, nods encouragement. Immediately the other couple, the Hanafelds, Donna and Erwin, join in. “Tell us all about it,” Erwin encourages. “What don’t we understand?” Donna wonders.
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