*UPDATE: Darr responds, see below.
Gov. Mike Beebe had harsh words for Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, who signed legislation exempting the concealed-carry permit list from the state Freedom of Information Act as acting governor while Beebe was out of town. Beebe called Darr's action "inappropriate."
"I heard he said something about, if he embarrassed me, [he] apologizes," Beebe told reporters this morning. "He didn't embarrass me. He embarrassed himself. That's his problem. We'll be much more careful with regard to Darr."
Beebe said he would have to be cautious about leaving the sate from now on. "You've got to be careful and not turn your back if things like that are going to happen," he said. "Because I owe it to the people, they elect me to be the governor. We know what a lieutenant governor is, it's a part-time job."
Beebe said that Darr's behavior (which had no practical impact, as Beebe planned to let the bill become law without his signature) stood in contrast to the class shown by Rep. Andy Mayberry, who did not try to take advantage of Beebe's absence on his bill to prohibit abortion after 20 weeks. Beebe said he would make a decision about whether to sign the bill by around 2:00 this afternoon.
Asked about Rep. Bruce Westerman's spending-cap bill, which passed out of committee today, the governor said he had not yet seen the amended version, but voiced strong opposition to the concept.
My general objection to Westerman's approach is still what it's always been. The Legislature is always in charge of the budget. They don't need to artificially restrict themselves. We've got the best budget system in America, proven over and over and acknowledged by other states and other governors....We're one of four states that never got in trouble because we've got a great budget system. Why [do] they want to monkey with it after it's been good for 70 years? Some guy who's been here a little while and wants to change something because he doesn't like what's going on in Washington — I just don't see that as appropriate.
Darr released a statement responding (sort of) to the governor's remarks. After the jump.
I respect the office of the Governor, the Constitution of the State of Arkansas, but mostly I respect the citizens of Arkansas and the 130,000 citizens that are now protected under this law.
I want to thank the number of constituents who have called and emailed in support of this law. People like Donna Schaefer of Carlisle, who took the time to come to the Capitol today and express how grateful she was. Donna and her 82 year old mother were two names that were released yesterday by a reporter here in Little Rock. Her story is an example of why I felt the urgent need to sign this bill into law.
It is important to remember that Act 145 received a tremendous amount of support from the Arkansas Legislature with a vote of 84 to 9 in the House and 24 to 9 in the Senate.