IT WAS A GOOD WEEK FOR …
GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE. He asked for a short legislative session to put more money in education, raise the minimum wage and ban smoking in most workplaces. He got all his wishes.
The LEGISLATURE. The special session wasn’t perfect — what session would be complete without some needless pandering, such as the legislation to ban protesters at funerals — but it was short and generally successful in dealing with the matters at hand.
WORKERS. See the legislation to raise the minimum wage to $6.25 an hour.
HEALTH. See the legislation to ban most smoking in enclosed places.
SEN. JIM ARGUE. He lost a key point, to force small districts to dig deeper to improve minimum teacher pay. But his committee blocked an effort — nominally mounted in the name of saving remote Paron High School — to effectively roll back legislation that requires a full high school curriculum for all Arkansas students.
GAMBLERS. An Oklahoma Indian tribe has begun seeking approval of Arkansas officials for its plans to build a casino in Fort Smith. Also, the AFL-CIO said it would support a petition drive for a Texas businessman’s proposal to allow casinos in seven counties and legalize a state lottery.
REMEDIAL MATH. The legislature, rather than tap hundreds of millions in state surplus for the $35 million UAMS wanted for a cancer center, decided to issue bonds that will require almost $115 million in taxpayer money to pay off.
LITTLE ROCK. Alltel chose the city as the headquarters for its spinoff wireline company, Windstream Communications.
IT WAS A BAD WEEK FOR …
ACCOUNTABILITY. The state Health and Human Services Department says it will never again tally the workers, by employer, covered by Medicaid. It’s too embarrassing to Wal-Mart. The one tally done by the state showed that taxpayers subsidize health coverage for 8.8 percent of the giant retailer’s workforce.