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Steve Brawner


Common Core test survives battle

The latest battle over the Common Core was fought Wednesday in the Senate Education Committee, where Rep. Mark Lowery, R-Maumelle, presented a bill that would remove Arkansas not from the Common Core, but from the new PARCC assessment that students take as part of the Common Core. The result is that Arkansas is still part of PARCC.

Tough task for health care task force

Sixteen legislators will spend the next 22 months trying to figure out how to do what no one has been able to figure out so far – cost-effectively provide health care to lower-income people without growing government and making more people dependent upon it.

Captain Legislature’s unneeded rescue

Arkansas is now a Republican state, and there is a strain in Republicanism (and in the Democratic Party, and in human nature in general) that seeks to assert power. It has already happened once in a big way this legislative session. Legislators should resist the temptation to do it again.

Whether terrorists should rot?

“In my opinion the only problem with Guantanamo Bay is there are too many empty beds and cells there right now. We should be sending more terrorists there for further interrogation to keep this country safe. As far as I’m concerned every last one of them can rot in hell, but as long as they don’t do that then they can rot in Guantanamo Bay.”

State of the Private Option Speech

Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s health care reform speech last Thursday was what the State of the Union address ought to be but rarely is – an accurate definition of a problem respecting both sides, followed by a solution that actually has a chance of being enacted.

Time to renew the Constitution

Think everything that’s wrong with this country is President Obama’s fault, or the Republicans’, or both? Nah. The real problem isn’t a person or party. The real problem is that America’s political system doesn’t work anymore. If we “threw out all the bums,” pretty soon we’d decide that the new bunch were bums, too.

Water, water everywhere, but not below

It makes up about 71 percent of the earth’s surface and about 60 percent of the adult human body. All our lives, it’s been available in abundance, particularly in Arkansas, and it still is, but we’ll have to change the way we obtain it. And it won’t be cheap to make that change.

Term limits probably will work out

For term limits supporters unhappy about what happened in November, it probably will work out for the best in the long run. Some reforms occurred that likely wouldn’t have happened otherwise, and voters probably will get a chance at a do-over in 2016.

Happy Giving Thanks Day

I let certain things get to me more than they should, such as the misuse of the apostrophe to pluralize a word on hand-lettered signs. (Just add an “s” to most words, people.) Another is calling the holiday we celebrate this time of year “Turkey Day.”

Womack: Yes to earmarks, no to pork

I’ll try to write this carefully because a member of Congress has presented a nuanced position that can’t be explained in three words or less, is out of step with the prevailing mood of his party, and easily could be misconstrued. That kind of activity usually gets congressmen in trouble these days, which is why they so rarely engage in it.