It is mostly quiet on the Nigel Haskett front, but a prehearing conference has been scheduled for April 6 at the Workers Compensation Commission. Attorneys for Haskett and his former employer, McDonald's, will attend the conference with David Greenbaum, chief administrative law judge for the commission. The opposing parties could reach an agreement at the conference. If not, a hearing will be scheduled. McDonald's, apparently feeling the heat of media coverage, has been pressing for a hearing to be set. Normally, it's the claimant who seeks to speed up the process in a workers comp case. Philip Wilson, Haskett's attorney, told the Commission last week that he wasn't asking for a hearing yet, because “We are still in the discovery stages and the respondents have not answered my interrogatories sent to them.” Haskett was shot last year while he was working at McDonald's and came to the aid of a woman being beaten by a man. He filed for workers compensation benefits and McDonald's denied the claim.
Not so gay
Rep. Bryan King, R-Green Forest, filed a last-minute bill that would prohibit domestic partnership registries in the state of Arkansas. The bill is aimed at the domestic partnership registry in Eureka Springs, part of King's district.
The Eureka Springs City Council started a domestic partnership registry in 2007. It's a symbolic procedure, without legal meaning, in which unmarried couples, gay or straight, can receive a commemorative certificate of their mutual commitment for a small fee. It's been viewed as a welcoming signal by gay vacationers, who visit Eureka in large numbers. Only a handful of the certificates have been issued.
House Speaker Robbie Wills, who helped King's election campaign, wrote in opposition to the bill on his blog. Wills said business people in Eureka oppose the bill because it would hurt tourism. Wills said the bill intrudes on local government and has no legitimate state purpose. He said residents can present a petition with 144 signatures to repeal the measure. To date, no petitions have been filed.
Winds of change
Word from Fayetteville is that a legislator from pre-term limits days, Bill Ramsey, formerly of Prairie Grove, is planning to run for state representative next year to succeed the term-limited Rep. Lindsley Smith. Ramsey recently retired as head of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce. To say his politics and those of the energetically progressive Smith are different is to put it mildly.