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The week that was March 29-April 4

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A SPECIAL SESSION. Emerging consensus on school funding gave a green light to a special legislative session this week.

UNCERTAINTY. At press time, with school issues mostly resolved, questions turned on two unrelated issues — an increase in the minimum wage and a bill to ban smoking in most public places. Opposition existed on both pieces of legislation, though smoking promised to be the bigger fight.

HYPOCRISY. Ken Mehlman, the Republican National chairman, visited Little Rock and used the occasion to criticize Mike Beebe, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, for taking contributions from business interests. This is tricky ground for a party whose gubernatorial candidate, Asa Hutchinson, IS a lobbyist and actively trying to trade his public service for riches in a couple of penny stock deals.

GAMBLING: The United Keetowah Band of Cherokee formally applied for trust status in Arkansas, the first step toward building a casino in Fort Smith. The tribe says the way for more gambling here was opened by legislation expanding gambling options at Oaklawn and Southland race tracks.

THE U.S. The corrupt Tom DeLay says he’s leaving Congress, though he promises to continue his strong-arm tactics from private life. Polls said he’d be beaten this year.


ACCOUNTABILITY. Gov. Mike Huckabee said on statewide TV that it was just too complicated for him to divide expenses of his use of the State Police airplane between official and personal use. Maybe he’d try a little harder if somebody sued him for an illegal exaction of taxpayer money on the personal use of the plane.

COLLEGE STUDENTS. Tuition will go up another 5 percent or so at University of Arkansas campuses next year.

ARKANSAS. But for storm-ravaged Louisiana and Mississippi, Arkansas would have finished last in the country last year in per capita income.

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