Quotable quotes: Legislature is full to overflowing
Once, back in antiquity, only a few members of the General Assembly were heard or seen in print and on the early versions of electronic media. But not today. With Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and, yes, the array of independent news stations, plus the live streaming of committee meetings and the sessions themselves – more and more of these quotes that cause us all pause – are coming out.
Decorum, an often-forgotten behavior, is somewhat present at times, but most often — as the political and personal pressure mounts on these social-issues bills — well, decorum, like the concealed-carry weapons, is often checked at the door.
Here is just a sampling from the last few days in our Arkansas Legislature.
From Pocahontas state Sen. Linda Collins-Smith on gun control: “You can’t be pro-gun enough in Arkansas.” Say what? And so a bill has been sent to Gov. Asa Hutchinson to allow concealed carry on college campuses and other venues with a limited active-shooter training endorsement added. Will Hutchinson sign the bill or issue his first veto of the 91st General Assembly?
State Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, the bulldozer behind pushing for guns to be carried on college campuses (and elsewhere) since his first session in 2010, was not without a gleeful quote as the bill headed to the governor’s desk.
“I’m very excited,” Collins told the state’s largest newspaper last week. “In the long term, hopefully, we’ll see fewer of these crazy killers going on to college campuses and shooting.”
Not everyone was happy, including the governor’s brother-in-law and a ranking state House member, state Rep. Kim Hendren, R-Gravette.
It seems the House Security Officers tried to prohibit Hendren from bringing his tiny Swiss Army pocket knife with him into the House chamber, although in the future bill on guns would allow trained members to bring firearms into the Chamber.
“This bill needs fixing,” Hendren pleaded with his colleagues.
But no fix was undertaken, and none offered, before passage.
No doubt by the time you will read these words action will be taken. Remember what Collins-Smith said: “You can’t be pro-gun enough in Arkansas.”
A little dust-up over a volunteer sex-education display and awareness on the Arkansas Tech University campus down in Russellville has some solons playing hardball by threatening to withhold financial resources from the college.
But even as these threats were verbalized and then taken to the next level by asking the joint budget staff to pull the funding, some solons wanted to deny it was ever going to happen.
After state Sen. Greg Standridge, R-Russellville, prepped the Budget Council ahead of the meeting to quietly be prepared to pull the funding, he was found out.
“That was just something prepared if we decided to go a different direction, and I told them do not run that, I just told them to hang on to it,” Standridge said to the media asking questions about his behindthe-scenes heavy-handed tactic.
“It was not OK’d by me to release in joint budget so I’m going to have to find out what’s going on,” Standridge said.
This was on the heels of many public statements by Reps. Trevor Drown, R-Van Buren. and Mary Bentley, R-Perryville, who are leaders of the effort to strip funding from the Department of Diversity and Inclusion at Arkansas Tech.
But some of these farflung quotes, may be necessary to make a point.
Take for instance the defeat of additional highway funding bills offered by state Rep. Dan Douglas, R-Bentonville.
“We’ll just let the roads fall apart,” he said, following the defeat.
Across the political aisle, Douglas’ fellow legislator, state Rep. Mark McElroy, D-Tillar, said: “These roads are not going to fix themselves.”
That’s about the wisest thing McElroy has said in his three sessions in Little Rock.
Offering a consolatory view, Democratic-minority leader state Rep. Michael John Gray, D-Augusta, who voted “present” on the highway funding package, said: “I look forward to further discussions.”
And so does Mr. and Mrs. Arkansas voter from such quotes as given here today.