Quotable quotes: Leg­is­la­ture is full to over­flow­ing

The Weekly Vista - - Opinion - MAY­LON RICE

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.


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