by David Ramsey
In an unusual move this morning, House Speaker Davy Carter visited three House committees, suggesting agenda priorities and gently nudging members to pick up the pace. This comes on the heels of Carter making some waves last week with a tweet suggesting that it was time to move beyond social issues and "focus on jobs, tax relief, budget, Medicaid, and Amendment 82."
The most substantive requests from Carter came in Revenue and Tax:
I'm here to respectfully ask the members of this committee to begin your deliberations regarding tax cuts and tax reform...within that process you all have a great responsibility to make sure that we pass reasonable tax measures out of this committee. There are over $2 billion worth of tax cut bills that have been filed. They all cannot reach the House floor....Mr. Chairman, I'm asking that the committee begin deliberations on your tax cut package in the total amount of $150 million. I would like for you to prioritize these in the following way: $50 million package one, $25 million increments thereafter....That's what I'm asking to see on the House Floor. In addition, and separate to that, I'm asking for some consideration to a capital gains cut in the context of the health care debate that is ongoing regarding Medicaid.
What's the Medicaid connection? Carter told reporters afterwards, "the folks that are going to be paying for [Medicaid expansion] are the job creators in this state and this country and we're going to at least give that due consideration."
At Public Health, Carter focused on Medicaid expansion, announcing that Gov. Mike Beebe will meet with lawmakers at 3:00 p.m. today to hear about his meeting with Sec. Kathleen Sebelius on possible flexibility in expanding. "We will know the options that the state has dealing with the Affordable Care Act. To that end, I would respectfully ask all of you to start focusing on that, and let's all come together and deal with the issue at hand....I think we'll have the information in hand to take up the issue."
Carter's shortest stop was at Judiciary, which has open carry legislation on the agenda today, which Carter has said he opposes. Unlike his other visits, Carter didn't offer much substance beyond reminding the committee that "the state of Arkansas was founded on common sense" and telling the committee to keep that in mind and "get to work and get something done."