The Thursday line | Arkansas Blog

The Thursday line

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PENGUINS MARCH: You can join the Little Rock Zoos penguins when they march to their new exhibit at 10 a.m. Saturday, starting at the zoo amphitheater.
  • PENGUINS MARCH: You can join the Little Rock Zoo's penguins when they march to their new exhibit at 10 a.m. Saturday, starting at the zoo amphitheater.

The thread is open.

Closing thoughts:

MELTDOWN: Sen. Gilbert Bakers split with House Republicans is the talk of the day.
  • MELTDOWN: Sen. Gilbert Baker's split with House Republicans is the talk of the day.
* EVERYBODY'S TALKING ABOUT: Sen. Gilbert Baker's meltdown. He pushed for a vote on his used cars sales tax reduction in House committee despite warnings the House wasn't ready to pass it. He reacted angrily when it was tabled. And then he apparently reacted more angrily still in an afternoon radio talk show interview. Can the House-Senate Republican divide be reconciled? Democrats hope not. If it breaks down totally over a fight over a tax cut for rich people vs. Mike Beebe's grocery tax reduction, Democrats win the session. If nothing passes, the governor has more money to spend and he wins the session. House Republicans think Senate Republicans are providing protection for Democratic Sen. Larry Teague, viewed as potentially vulnerable in the next election. I'd be the last to know. But to House and Senate Republicans I say, let's you and him fight. Republicans Reps. John Burris and Davy Carter defended the House against Baker's criticism on the radio Thursday afternoon. Burris apparently said accusing Republican Rep. Stephen Meeks for supporting bigger government, as Baker did, was like accusing Burris of jogging. Burris is comfortably sized. More from Roby Brock.

* IDENTIFY YOURSELF: Republican Rep. Bryan King pulled a favorite from the GOP legislative cookie-cutter factory today, a bill to require a photo ID to vote. That's not so newsy; just typical. What's interesting is that the Democratic Party promptly rapped King with a news release on how such legislation merely discourages voting, particularly among the young and elderly (which is, of course, the point.) Dems getting energized maybe? See release on jump.

* IDENTIFY YOURSELF II: Republican Sen. Michael Lamoureux has introduced a bill to require closed primaries. You could only vote in a Republican or Democratic primary as a registered voter of the party. You could remain independent and give up a vote until the general election. I think it's a restriction on freedom that many won't approve. Louisiana once had this system. It no longer does. It didn't turn out too badly for Republicans down there. Open primaries benefitted Republicans most in 2010, when Republican-sympathy voters voted for D.C. Morrison and cost Bill Halter a win in the U.S. Senate primary.

* LOAN SHARKS FETE LEGISLATORS: Happen to see a big crowd of legislators and former House Speaker Robbie Wills at Arthur's Prime Steakhouse in WLR last night? That was lobbyist Wills, wining and dining the Legislative Black Caucus, explaining to them the benefits to their constituents of legalizing 60 percent interest rates for the loan shops his clients want to set up here with legislative help.

DEMOCRATIC PARTY NEWS RELEASE

In a move to make voting more difficult for Arkansans, Republican lawmaker Bryan King of Green Forest filed legislation yesterday that would unnecessarily require Arkansas voters to provide photo identification when voting in Arkansas.

“We should be working on ways to encourage participation in the government process, not restrict voters’ access,” Candace Martin, communications director of the Democratic Party of Arkansas said. “This unnecessary requirement hurts seniors who want to vote but may no longer have a driver’s license or other photo ID as well as college students and lower-income voters who are less likely to hold a driver’s license.”

HB 1797 was filed on Wednesday, March 2 and referred to the Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs.

“Imagine the senior in rural Arkansas who gets a ride to vote on Election Day and is then turned away because he or she does not have a driver’s license or photo ID; that's an injustice,” Martin said. “Everyone who chooses to vote and participate in the process of government should be able to do so without redundant and unnecessary restrictions that the Republicans want to enact.”

Representative Bryan King (R) of Green Forest represents District 91 and is the sole sponsor on the bill that risks access to voting for seniors, students, and low-income Arkansans.

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