I was cheered today by a call from former state Rep. Mike Wilson of Jacksonville. He wanted to alert me to the Petrus/Critcher legislation (HB 1427) to institutionalize pork barreling by means of a commission appointed by, who else, the House speaker and Senate president pro tem,. Legislators would have to get their petitions for cash in by March 10 and the commission would pass out the money within 30 days, in odd-numbered years. You can imagine the horse trading that will ensue.
Wilson is not hooked into the computer world, so he didn't know that I'd blogged Hogzilla yesterday.
Be assured that Wilson, whose court case upended the last legislature's unconstitutional pork barreling, is on the case again, "night and day." He tells me, too, that an attorney general's opinion will be sought on some obvious constitutional questions raised by the legislation, among them the fact that the bill effectively puts unrestricted appropriation power for any and all kinds of spending in the hands of a commission of House and Senate leadership appointees. The Brotherhood likes its chances on the bill, apparently. Sen. Shawn Womack was issuing instructions today to submit General Improvement Fund requests to the Arkanas Pork Commission. Sorry, Arkansas Community Assistance Commission.
The better, fairer idea (this won't be fair, clearly) is to increase local government turnback. Then let all share equally in available money on a per capita basis and let those democratically elected local officials make decisions about where the greatest needs exist.
There is a political stumbling block to Hogzilla 2007. No appropriation bill has been introduced yet. It will take a three-fourths vote. Unless The Brotherhood cuts The Otherhood in for a whole wad of dough, hard to see how the appropriation bill passes. Greedy folks tend to assume others have similar motivation. Sometimes they are surprised.