We reported last week on the bill to make any form of regulation or zoning impossible in practice for state or local governments. Worth noting that this is cookie-cutter legislation from ALEC, the Koch-backed 501(c)(3) that creates drafts of model legislation for conservative legislators. Courtesy of the folks at the Center for Media and Democracy, you can see the ALEC version of the legislation here: ALEC_property.pdf
Of course, Koch Industries, Deltic Timber and any other corporation doing business in the state (I'm guessing Big River Steel is psyched!) has a major financial stake in getting this passed.
I mention Deltic because as we've noted, this spells doom for the land-use ordinance in the Lake Maumelle watershed that looked set to pass last month before an amendment from JP Tyler Denton stalled it, blindsiding county officials.
Since conspiracy theories are popular among some opponents of the ordinance, here's a little juice for proponents of watershed protection: Brent Stevenson,, a lobbyist for the Koch brothers, also lobbies for Deltic and for Lorie and Mark White, landowners in the watershed. Stevenson tweeted "Tyler Denton is a public servant with honor and dignity and sensitivity to deal with complex issues" after Denton's amendment passed. The Whites are among the most vocal critics of the ordinance. Their attorney is Kent Walker, who has pushed ideas about alternatives to the ordinance that are very similar to Denton's amendment. While Denton said he hasn't been in touch with lobbyists, he has been in touch with Walker (though Denton is quick to point out that Walker is just one of many he's talked to, including conservationists).
So there's a little catnip (Koch-nip?) for the conspiracy theorists, but I actually think what's going on here is pretty simple. Big landowners and corporations are key elements of the Republican base. Republicans don't like government regulation, particularly the sort of environmental regulation that can turn out to be a bummer for big business. That's where ALEC comes in, a handy helper with ready-made legislation to cut off government at the knees and give a boost to property owners, even if it comes at the expense of the public interest. Big business — sure, that includes Koch Industries — wins.
Regardless of how we got here, it remains the case that if this bill becomes law, the land-use ordinance for the Lake Maumelle Watershed is dead.