The gay-hating Sen. Bart Hester
is breaking out of the pack this year — besting even Jason Rapert — for a Keith Olberman-style Worst Person in the World Award His crusade for discrimination — and punishment of those who favor equality — is ground enough. But he also passed his bill in the Senate yesterday to cut property taxes on billboards. Maybe the next time it comes up, the daily newspaper will note that Hester is a billboard owner.
The last-day filings include something by Hester that purports to set up a study of landlord-tenant laws. It purports to provide for "fair and balanced" recommendations from a commission controlled in the main by Republican politicians.
Pardon my skepticism about anything introduced by Bart Hester, but just note for the record that a commission has been laboring for years to revise Arkansas landlord-tenant law, the worst in the country in terms of protection for renters. They've hammered out a compromise that landlords support. Rep. Greg Leding
has sponsored HB 1486 to implement the commission's work. Landlords support it. The Realtors' lobby does not. The bill will be before the House Insurance and Commerce Committee Wednesday morning.
Perhaps Hester is just ready with some window dressing after defeat of Leding's bill. His commission would report in time for the 2017 session. What's a few more years with no guarantee of habitable premises for renters? This IS Arkansas after all.
When I was looking up Hester's billboard holdings the other day, it appeared he also owned several residential properties in Benton County. Landlord maybe? No gay people need apply.
Hester yesterday also filed a shell bill related to the sales tax on food. Maybe he wants to put a penny or so back on to make up for the capital gains tax cut that is about to be fully restored for the wealthy, while the poorest Arkansas workers (those making less than $21,000) are the only ones not getting a tax cut from Gov. Asa Hutchinson this session. Why not put a cherry on top and tax their groceries, too. And drug-test them while we're at it.