March 25-31, 2009
It was a GOOD week for …
REPRESSION. Arkansas Tech University, historically averse to free speech, has modified its speech policy to allow use of an indoor auditorium for free speech two hours a week. A courtyard also may be used for political speech. Walking around with signs to demonstrate? Forget about it.
TOLERANCE. It took some strong backroom politicking, but a House committee defeated a mean Republican bill to outlaw the legally meaningless domestic partnership registry in Eureka Springs. The certificate program is widely interpreted as a welcome mat to gay tourists, though unmarried couples of any persuasion can get a certificate by payment of a small fee. A highlight of the hearing was a civil rights lawyer's catch of the Family Council in testimony directly contradicting earlier pronouncements on the meaning of the Constitution's same-sex marriage ban.
ENERGY CONSERVATION. Secretary of State Charlie Daniels turned out the Capitol lights for an hour Saturday night and a number of other people and institutions in Arkansas also participated in the worldwide effort to raise awareness about climate change.
GOV. MIKE BEEBE. He said records of concealed weapon permit holders should remain open. Or was it a bad week for Beebe? He wouldn't say he'd veto a bill to close the records if it passes.
It was a BAD week for …
MONEY. Beebe administration officials revised the revenue forecast. Even with a big tobacco tax increase, state revenue will essentially be flat in the next budget year. Surplus will be spent to close the gaps.
CHILDREN. The Arkansas Senate defeated a bill to charge all Arkansas high school graduates in-state college tuition rates. It was defeated because some senators don't want to treat children of undocumented immigrants like other Arkansans, though they live here, go to school here and pay taxes.
The ECONOMY. The unemployment rate in Arkansas continued to rise, to 6.6 percent, the worst in 16 years.