It was a good week for...
VOTE SUPPRESSION. The Arkansas House voted 52-45 to override Gov. Mike Beebe's veto of a bill that requires voters to present a photo ID. Despite Republican claims of widespread voter fraud, there's little evidence of fraud generally and no evidence of in-person voter impersonation, the only fraud the measure will prevent. There is, however, plenty of evidence demonstrating that voter ID measures depress voter turnout. The vote was party line, except for Rep. Fred Love (D-Little Rock), who later said he mistakenly voted for the override. The bill becomes law Jan. 1, 2014, provided there are funds to pay for its implementation. A lawsuit challenging the law's constitutionality is likely.
EXPANSION. House Speaker Rep. Davy Carter, of Cabot, and Senate Pro Tem Michael Lamoureux, of Russellville, were the first state Republicans to publicly endorse the "private option" health care expansion plan for Arkansas. Meanwhile, Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has given official confirmation of the federal government's commitment to moving forward on Arkansas's expansion plan, something Republicans have long said would be crucial to receive before legislation moved forward.
INCHING TOWARDS THE GOVERNOR'S RACE. Mike Ross, the former congressman recently turned lobbyist-in-waiting for the Southwest Power Pool, has resigned from his government affairs job to pursue "public service." Ross offers no further comment, but it's an indicator that he's likely to run for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2014.
It was a bad week for...
MAYFLOWER. An ExxonMobil pipeline ruptured in a Mayflower neighborhood on Friday, spilling thousands of barrels of crude oil into the surrounding areas. Authorities evacuated nearly two dozen homes. At press time, there was no indication when residents would be allowed to return or when the cleanup would be complete.
WOMEN. When is it not a bad week for women as long as this General Assembly is in session? The latest affront: Republicans in a Senate Committee killed Sen. Joyce Elliott's resolution to ratify the federal Equal Rights Amendment. Former Republican legislator Dan Greenberg said, during testimony, "equality in all circumstances is not always the best policy."