by Max Brantley
The House today resoundingly defeated Sen. Linda Chesterfield's bill to create a commission on the status of women (it doesn't require state funding.)
Several female legislators opposed the bill, including Andrea Lea, Anne Clemmer, Debra Hobbs and Charlotte Wagner. Unnecessary, potentially would require expenditures eventually and so on.
Rep. John Walker said it was time to get women on an equal footing with men and a study was one way to move in that direction. The bill drew only 27 positive votes. Roll call is posted here. My rep., Kathy Webb, voted present, same as a no. Linda Chesterfield's odious, homophobic campaign against her friend Jay Barth in 2010 might explain that vote, but I am only speculating.
UPDATE: Rep. Webb explains her vote of "present":
I worked on this bill during the interim, and asked Rep. Steele on the floor if it were accurate that AR ranks 51st in economic opportunity for women (yes, we do).
However, last week I voted for a measure promoted by the Speaker to limit task forces and commissions. Like others, it's difficult to vote to limit task forces and commissions one day then vote for one the next. My commitment as Budget Co-Chair and to my vote last week prevailed. But you can be sure I will ask a committee to explore why we rank 51st.