It was a good week for ...
GUBERNATORIAL RACE JOCKEYING. Lt. Gov. Mark Darr said he's not running for governor and pledged his support to Asa Hutchinson. Meanwhile, former Congressman Mike Ross is reportedly considering jumping into the race, and past Republican candidate Sheffield Nelson has said he's mulling running either as a Republican or independent.
DELAYING. Republicans, including Rep. John Burris (R-Harrison), said they want to delay making a decision on expanding Medicaid to next year's fiscal session. If the legislature then decided to expand, it would be leaving six months of money on the table. See the Expand-o-meter on page 21 for more.
A TORT REFORM BATTLE. Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson (R-Little Rock), with significant input from plaintiffs' lawyers, got the jump on the business lobby by filing a proposed constitutional amendment with several Republican co-sponsors to curb the impact of Arkansas Supreme Court rulings in big damage cases. That upset Sen. Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot), another Republican, who is carrying the business lobby's tort reform amendment, a far harsher measure. Williams' bill would take the authority for court rulemaking in damage cases away from the court and put it in the hands of the legislature.
It was a bad week for ...
SECRECY. After the University of Arkansas refused Freedom of Information requests from the Arkansas Times and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette related to the university's reconstruction of what went wrong in the Advancement Division and how it ran a budget deficit of $3 to $5 million before the slide was stopped, the Democrat-Gazette sued the University. The UA had said that while it would release some material, its special review of the overspending amounted to a personnel record for the involved employees. This reasoning could just as easily form the basis of making secret every last document in the possession of the UA.
BOOKBAG SNATCHERS. A House committee endorsed a bill by Rep. Charlie Collins (R-Fayetteville) to allow staff at Arkansas colleges to carry concealed handguns. The bill would leave the decisions at each campus to its governing body. A similar measure that would allow concealed carry within the state Capitol is likely to be filed soon.