Here's the rundown on legislative freebies this week, not including special committee events that I hope to add later.
Lunch, 11:30 a.m., AEA building, host, South Arkansas Regional Coalition.
Reception, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Next Level Events, paid for by the Arkansas Electric Cooperatives.
Breakfast, 7:30 a.m., Capitol Hill Building, host is Arkansas Campaign for Grade-level Reading.
Lunch, 11:30 a.m., Association of Arkansas Counties building, paid for by Arkansas County Assessors Association (read: tax dollars.)
Lunch, noon, Capitol rotunda, hosted by Arkansas Boys and Girls Club. (This appears only on the Senate agenda.)
Reception, 5:30-8:30 p.m., Capital Hotel, paid for by Arkansas Realtors Association. (Given their most-favored status, it's no wonder they choose a classy locale.)
Breakfast, 7:30 a.m., Capitol Hill Building, put on by Arkansas Nurses Association.
Lunch, 11:15 a.m., Capitol Hill Building, American Cancer Society Action Network.
Also on the free swill front, the Senate yesterday amended House Speaker Jeremy Gillam's bill to loosen state ethics rule to strip out his provision to re-open the door to foreign junkets. The bill still amounts to a new stretch. For one thing,
it gives political parties (read: Republican) the power to take lobby only to throw party events of unlimited grandiosity just so long as they invite all members of THEIR political party. Clubby, yes? The measure specifically excludes political party from the definition of lobbyist, even though the parties employ people to work for legislation just as other lobbies do. Talk about a loophole for Big Swills.
Why must they keep providing loopholes for free swill? Why do they keep saying these sorts of gratuities don't affect them, when they try so hard to keep them?
The political party ruse was used to cloak the lobby swillathons known as the regal session-closing dinners for the leaders of the House and Senate. It's a time for all the chums to congratulate each other on jobs well done for the special interests, with the tab for fine food and drinks paid by the special interests.
UPDATE: Here are the committee events at which members may legally be entertained thanks to loopholes created by the legislature in the people's ethics law:
The Senate state agencies committee and the House Rules Committee will be treated at 6 p.m. Thursday at Lost Forty Brewing by the brewer, the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Arkansas, Golden Eagle of Arkansas and the Arkansas Brewers Guild. Ein prosit!