It was a good week for ...
THE CASINO AMENDMENT. The constitutional amendment to allow four casinos in Arkansas led by professional poker player Nancy Todd cleared a significant hurdle to make the general election ballot. Her signature drive had fallen short at the initial deadline, but enough signatures were submitted to qualify for an extension to gain more and, using paid canvassers, Todd amassed more than 95,000 signatures, 18,000 more than needed. Now the amendment awaits the resolution of a Supreme Court challenge over its ballot language.
WHINING. At a state Legislative Education Committee meeting, Rep. Justin Harris, who runs a pre-school that receives funding through the Department of Human Services' Arkansas Better Chance program, complained that his school had received scrutiny because of "an outside group" (Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which pointed out that Harris' school was providing religious instruction, even though it receives state money). "In 2006, when we applied for this grant, we were told that all we had to do was have parents sign a paper [opting out of religious instruction for their child] ... we have complied by moving Biblical curriculum after hours, but now we can't pray with students or sing religious songs?" he said. The answer for Harris is that in 2006, when Mike Huckabee was governor, the state didn't pay much attention to the U.S. Constitution.
It was a bad week for ...
ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS. Alabama beat the depleted Razorbacks 52-0. Star quarterback Tyler Wilson didn't play because of a head injury. The shutout was the worst campus loss in 93 years.
SEN. JACK CRUMBLY. His lawsuit arguing discrimination against black voters in redrawing of state Senate districts — especially state Senate District 24 in East Arkansas — after the 2010 Census was dismissed by a three-judge panel. Crumbly lost a Democratic primary in May for the new Senate District 24 seat to a white candidate, Keith Ingram of West Memphis.
STATE TREASURER MARTHA SHOFFNER. She failed to appear before the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee to answer questions about a critical audit of her investment practices on Friday, infuriating legislators, who sent the State Police after her with a subpoena. On Monday, when she did appear, a staff member being questioned about bond sales that produced losses asked if she had whistleblower protection and said she had advised Shoffner against certain investments. Shoffner disputed that.