by Max Brantley
I mentioned earlier that former state Rep. Mary Beth Green had joined proponents of the tobacco tax at a media event this morning. Add her husband, current Rep. Rick Green, a Republican, to the bandwagon. From House Speaker Robbie Wills:
The first Ray Smith Award of the session goes to Rep. Rick Green of Van Buren. Rick signed on as a co-sponsor of HB 1204, the tobacco tax bill to provide funding for a statewide trauma system, community health centers, area health education centers, in-home care for seniors, cancer treatment, AR Kids First, the second UAMS campus and many other important healthcare-related programs. When others vacillated, equivocated and generally looked for the easy way out, Rick stepped up and simply led. We don’t always vote alike; we were on different sides of the severance tax debate last year, for instance. But I always know where Rick stands and why he does what he does. His word is gold. When we pass this ambitious and important healthcare package, it will be because folks like Rick Green stood up and did the right thing. I appreciate his leadership on this issue, truly in the spirit of Ray Smith.
The late Ray Smith, in case you didn't know, was the courageous Hot Springs legislator who cast the sole vote (it was 94-1) in 1958 against the Faubus legislation to allow closure of schools facing integration.
I guess in today's Republican Party that breaking ranks with anti-tax orthodoxy passes for courage. (And we know how much courage is required to beat up on cigarette smokers.) Ray Smith worthy? Get back to me when an Arkansas Republican supports reproductive rights and opposes legal persecution of sexual minorities.
But still, 'ppreciate your good vote, Mr. Green.