by Max Brantley
The evening open line begins. Final words:
* LATE-BREAKING LEGISLATIVE LOBBYING: A late effort is being mounted by trial lawyers and others to defeat HB1147, which eliminates the requirement that out-ofstate-banks not authorized to do business in Arkansas register in Arkansas before they can foreclose on a home. This bill does more than reduce potential registration revenue for the secretary of state. It allows unregistered banks to foreclose in the future without fear of being sued, as they currently are. Bank defense attorneys will certainly also try to argue that this is a procedural change in the law that retroactively moots a pending class action lawsuit over foreclosure abuses by out-of-state banks. A debate on this far-reaching legislation's introduction lasted about 3 minutes in the House. Beware of Trojan horses masquerading as little ol' cleanups. A lawyer fighting this bill said it would end filing requirements for mortgage holders and mortgage servicers, meaning a loss of franchise fees from some 1,500 mortgage companies in Arkansas.
* LEGISLATOR SEEKS CLEAN RECORD: State Rep. Josh Johnston, a Republican from Rose Bud, was in Cleburne Circuit Court today on a motion seeking expungement of his 1995 criminal record on a misdemeanor hot check conviction. The
local prosecutor (a local attorney complained about lack of notice, Johnston said) objected and a hearing was scheduled for April 14, our sources report. You may recall we mentioned Johnston's record previously. It raises questions about his eligibility to serve in the legislature. He has said he believes the mistake shouldn't disqualify him for his current office or Cleburne County sheriff, which he plans to seek in this year's election. The effort for expunging his record perhaps indicates an awareness of a difference of opinion on the issue. Our legal sources say Johnston was not sentenced under a statute that provides for a future expungement hearing.
* FREE AT LAST IN MONTICELLO: Southeast Arkansas bureau chief I.P. Freely reports from Monticello that signs prohibiting public use of restrooms in Monticello City Hall have been removed. We reported yesterday on a civic protest by Ken Harper, a local lawyer, who erected an outhouse on the lawn outside Mayor Allen Maxwell's office as a protest against the lack of public accommodation.
* EIN PROSIT: Video shows German Chancellor Angela Merkel as a waiter spills a tray of beer on her back. She takes it with better humor than she endured the infamous George W. Bush shoulder massage.
* OCCUPY LR: They appeared at City Board to protest feared eviction. TV reports city officials claim no eviction plans in works.