by Max Brantley
Just seeing some notes from John Williams at the legislature:
Rep. Jim Nickels' bill to enable the State Contracting Board to punish contractors who hire unauthorized immigrants failed in House State Agencies committee again. The vote was close; the newest amendment said it would be an affirmative defense if the contractor ran the employee through e-verify, which apparently made it easier for some to vote for. A bipartisan roster of nine, two short, voted for the bill. Only immigrants are to be punished in Arkansas. Not the businesses who depend on them.
Senate Public Health gave a do pass to a bill (SB792) that will allow the Tobacco Settlement Commission to issue a required biennial report itself. Currently the report is contracted out to a third party. Third parties can still make the report under the new bill. The bill was opposed by the Tobacco Settlement Commission.
Rep. Steve Harrelson's bill to stream committee meetings over the Internet drew one vote, Harrelson's. Committee business is probably the most telling part of the process. Ugly at times. Hence a lack of interest in exposure.
Also a flop was Rep. Ann Clemmer's bill (HB1973) to reduce costs of legislator travel to out-of-town conferences. If the conference is over 500 miles away, the legislator would be reimbursed at either the cost of airfare or the cost of driving, whichever is lower. Some complained that the fluctuating prices of plane tickets would make the lower cost difficult to determine.