Feb. 23-March 2, 2011
It was a good week for ...
IMMIGRANTS. A House committee beat a bill that, in its original form, would have denied any sort of state benefit, except life-saving, to those without legal residency. It would have ended a pre-natal care program and any number of other humane services.
SHEFFIELD NELSON. The former gas executive and Republican gubernatorial candidate continued his crusade to increase the severance tax on gas production to pay for road damage the drilling rigs have caused.
TAXES. What? You thought this was the era of tax cuts? The highway lobby apparently has the legislature primed to send to voters proposals for a nickel increase in the diesel tax and a half-cent sales tax increase to pay for repairs and an unneeded four-lane program. Note to legislators: Deferring your responsibility to voters for tax increases doesn't take the blood off your hands. You were elected to vote, not pass the buck.
The LITTLE ROCK ZOO. It gave a sneak preview of a new penguin exhibit. Looks like it will be a hit.
It was a bad week for ...
POOR FOLKS. Legislation was introduced to open the door to loan sharks in Arkansas and virtually unlimited interest rates on small loans as bad as anything the payday lenders ever invented. (See Max Brantley.)
MIKE HUCKABEE. His latest bookette, "Simple Government," was ripped by national writers for simple-minded, mistake-ridden cliches from somebody more interested in money than governance. Uh, yeah.
RANDEEP MANN. The Russellville doctor was sentenced to life in prison for orchestrating a bomb plot against Trent Pierce, the chairman of the state Medical Board. Still unanswered: Who did the actual bombing?
FAULKNER COUNTY. Still more earthquakes, including a 4.7-scale tremor last Sunday that was the strongest in 35 years. It was felt all across Central Arkansas and might have even left a crack or two in structures here and there.