It was a good week for...
A VETO Gov. Mike Beebe vetoed a bill that would require Arkansas voters to present a photo ID. He said it would risk disenfranchising voters, calling it "an unnecessary measure that would negatively impact one of our most precious rights as citizens." He further cited constitutional concerns, unnecessary cost and growth in bureaucracy as his reasons for the veto.
EXPANSION A new study from DHS suggested that the additional cost to the federal government of the "private option" of expanding health coverage to around 250,000 Arkansans could be much lower than anticipated. According to DHS, subsidizing the expansion population to purchase private insurance in the health care exchange may represent no additional cost at all compared with traditional Medicaid expansion. Given that the biggest critique of the "private option" was a higher federal price tag, this could help push expansion towards the three-fourths majority it needs to pass in the legislature.
A TAX CUT Rep. Charlie Collins bill to change the income tax brackets and cut the top rate of 7 percent to 6.875 percent for the wealthiest taxpayers advanced from committee. The measure would disproportionately benefit wealthier taxpayers, while providing little or no benefits to middle class and working poor. In his presentation before the committee, Collins noted that Arkansas's top rate is higher than that in adjoining states (several of which enjoy higher property taxes, franchise fees equivalent to income tax and oil and gas tax revenue that Arkansas doesn't enjoy.) He said the reduction he proposes would be a "step in the right direction."
A PROTEST A two-week grassroots campaign on social media brought around 500 people to the Capitol on a cold, rainy Saturday to protest the legislature's attack on women's medical rights. Speakers invoked a range of other liberty-infringing efforts by the legislature, from voting rights to tattoo-like body art.
It was a bad week for...
OLD FAVORITES FROM RETROGRADE LEGISLATORS The House has passed a resolution endorsing school prayer. Those constitutional oaths the legislators take? Who cares? Meanwhile, without any discussion or a roll call, a House committee approved a resolution reaffirming support for the Arkansas constitutional provision banning same-sex marriage and for the federal Defense of Marriage Act, currently facing a federal constitutional challenge before the U.S. Supreme Court.