If you haven't been following the news lately, you might be interested in knowing the Arkansas Legislative Council is holding briefings or budget hearings by state agencies.
Now is the time to contact your friendly — or unfriendly — state representative, state senator and agency directors if you have an issue that affects you, your business or the area.
What are your concerns?
For example, everyone talks about the roads and how gas taxes are down. But why doesn't Arkansas dedicate the sales tax from vehicle sales, vehicle repairs, vehicle parts, etc. to the development of road improvements based on the county or zip code that it is collected in? If we had this at 50 percent for the state for regional roads, 25 percent for county and 25 for cities, then perhaps Metroplan and the Highway Department would have extended Hwy. 440 out to Hwy. 107 already. That would have been a cheaper North Belt solution. No tax increase, but a change in what agency gets the money.
Other issues of concern:
Child support being tax deductible and retroactive for as many years as the IRS allows.
Ending cost of living raises based on a percentage of an employees' salary. One percent of $150,000 is a lot more than 1 percent of $35,000. Do the lower paid employees not have a greater need to keep up with inflation?
Ending discriminatory city election systems that favor incumbents by allowing all city residents to vote on the aldermen who are supposed to represent a specific ward and requiring 10 wards instead of five wards with two aldermen.
Requiring all public agencies to offer their facilities to other agencies and local groups as needed — at just the cost of someone to look up afterward if the cleaning crew wouldn't still be at the facility still — so that a school auditorium or gym can be used for a city, county or organizational event.
Allowing businesses and people to deduct from their taxes anything they provide to a local government that improves their local area or provides a needed service for a local government, such as paying to improve downtown with a park or bandstand between Wendy's and First Arkansas Bank, or donating land and paying for equipment for mini-parks on vacant land or land with homes that need to be torn down.
What are your concerns? Speak up or suffer later.
From the web, in response to David Koon's cover story last week, "The martyr of Danville Mountain":
Excellent writing. Something like a hobo finding a friendly door back in the Great Depression, for reasons I don't know or can't remember, Jay and his brother rode up in our yard a number of years ago. Mag and I gave them glasses of ice water and a crumpled 20-dollar bill as we talked about endless war and the often unseen damage veterans bring back with them.
The visit only lasted about 10 minutes, and I forgot about it until I learned of Jay's untimely death. Since then two of my high school buddies have lost their sons by the same method after they returned from several tours of Afghanistan and Iraq and couldn't regain their footing and couldn't leave what they had to do and what they witnessed back in the Middle East.
Now Jay makes three and who knows how many more will follow a similar path in the future. Unlike WWII veterans, no one knows why these boys were sent to war and I predict no one will know 50 years from now. I don't even want to try to imagine the anguish these families are going through and will go through for the rest of their lives. I can only hope that someday America will not be at war and no one's son or daughter will take up arms in another country in defense of the Fortune 500.
From the web, in response to Max Brantley's column, "Clarke Tucker: a vote for the future":
Beside his name is a D, which rhymes with B, which stands for Barack. Hurst has a nice red R beside her name on the ballot. If that makes a major difference in a relatively progressive, educated district, it's a real statement about the state of the Arkansas electorate.
From the web, in response to Joseph Jones' guest column, "Eugene Ellison: Little Rock's Michael Brown":
Dear blacks, if you don't want to die, don't attack people. Is that too much to ask of you?
Dear Little Rock white cops, when you enter an elderly black man's apartment, unannounced, without warrant and give no warning when his disabled mind is confused while shooting to kill, you should be charged with murder.
Ellison is no Brown. The difference is illuminating. Ellison was clearly a victim of police abuse and over reaction, much the same way that cops murdered John Crawford in Walmart.
The circumstances of Brown being shot are in dispute, and favor the narrative of officer Wilson, as Brown was NOT shot in the back, and had attacked officer Wilson.
If ever there was a case for protests, Eugene Ellison is that case, but Brown is NOT.
From the web in response to "Obamacare is working," an Oct. 27 post on the Arkansas Blog by Max Brantley:
I'm telling you those people are so hard headed they'll kill the PO AND keep the tax cuts no matter how much they have to slash government services. And then we'll be back in court over school funding. ... But they won't care.