New leadership -- UPDATED | Arkansas Blog

New leadership -- UPDATED

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It's nuts, but the Senate has already elected a president pro tem for the 2009 session, the Death Star himself, Bob Johnson, a secret ballot victor over a senior legislator, Paul Miller. Roby Brock's Talk Business got a few comments from Johnson as the future Senate Elvis left the building today. Roby found his remarks slightly ominous. Given the source, we know we'll be watching. Perhaps for a special tax on all free weekly newspapers published along Scott Street in Little Rock that are not owned by a multi-state media conglomerate. Tough as we've been on Johnson, we'd be the first to say he's certain to be better than Jack Critcher. Back-handed compliment, but still.

PS -- Yes this means this legislative session is over, save a brief and perfunctory return for any corrections. The governor visited both chambers to proclaim it a smashing success for all. We're less enamored. Abundant money made it easy for all concerned. Lots of bad stuff passed. Lots of bad stuff got beaten. Could have been better. Could have been worse. Beebe will meet the press at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow.

PPS -- A reminder that fear and loathing never takes a holiday. Jerry Cox of the Family Council says that unless somebody can persuade him otherwise -- he does have a hotline to God after all -- he expects his group will lead a ballot effort to punish any gay person who would presume to parent children in the Natural State through adoption or foster care. He does need to perfect his mean little proposal. Seems to me that gay adults, if so dangerous and loathesome, should also be deprived of children conceived of their own egg and sperm. Let's be consistent, Christians.

PPPS -- A small note: in a year that saw a cut in the tax on groceries; a huge increase in education spending; a huge increase in higher ed spending and money aplenty for contractors to build school buildings and roads (and maybe more in bonds to come), who was a loser? State employees, that's who. Not that many will cry. They're getting 2 percent annual raises, the latest in a long line of raises that have left them behind the annual rise in the expense curve. This covers legislators, too. EXCEPT: the legislators voted themselves a HUGE boost in their arguably unconstitutional expense allowances.

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