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Swine stampede

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Though needed, it came tragically too late. Legislation to curb feral hogs was approved by the House of Representatives last week, but not before Senate Republicans had already overridden Governor Beebe's veto of a bill prohibiting voting without photo identification. Had the House roll call come first, the Republican senators might have been herded away from their party-line override, the very sort of pointless destruction that the House bill was intended to prevent. (Late word: Apparently confused, or fearing retribution, the House has now joined the override. Is there a word for "government by feral hogs"?)

SB 2 by Sen. Bryan King, R-Green Forest, is meant to reduce the number of voters who are likely to vote Democratic — the elderly, the poor, minorities. Today's Republicans believe that voting, and indeed all important matters, should be left to rich white men. Gov. Beebe has a different reading of democracy, and explained it in his veto message:

"Given the importance of the right to vote, laws that would impair or make it more difficult to exercise that right should be justified by the most compelling of reasons. This is particularly so when the citizens, whose right to vote is most likely to be impaired, are those citizens who experience the most difficulty in voting in the first place: the elderly and the poor. A compelling justification should likewise be shown when the citizens most likely to be affected include minorities who have in the past been target of officially sanctioned efforts to bar or discourage them from participating in the electoral process.

"Senate Bill 2 is not supported by any demonstrated need. While proponents of laws similar to Senate Bill 2 argue that they are necessary to combat 'election fraud,' the bill addresses only voter impersonation, and no credible study of 'election fraud' supports the notion that such voter impersonation is or has been common in Arkansas. ... There has been no demonstration that our current law is insufficient to deter and prevent voter impersonation. Senate Bill 2 is, then, an expensive solution in search of a problem. I cannot approve such an unnecessary measure that would negatively impact one of our most precious rights as citizens."

Protecting the precious rights of citizens is not on the minds of the backers of SB 2. They'll trample those rights with no more concern than four-legged hogs show for farmers' crops, but with considerably more hypocrisy. The four-legged invaders don't pretend to be acting in the public interest.

For what it's worth, Arkansas is not the only state beset by feral legislators. Nine Republican lawmakers in Iowa introduced a bill that would classify all abortions as murder, including "use of abortion-inducing drugs." Another Republican, Missouri state Rep. Mike Leara, introduced a bill to make it a felony for any lawmaker to introduce a gun-control bill. In New Mexico, Rep. Cathrynn Brown, also Republican, introduced a bill that appeared to make it a felony for victims of rape or incest to get an abortion. She amended the bill after a public outcry.

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