Siloam Springs Herald Leader
Scribbled pages, straight from 94th General Assembly
Some scribbled notes from observations into these early days of the 94th General Assembly are fast filling up the notebook.
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There is some good news from Little Rock.
Freshman legislator Kendra Moore of Lincoln, a first-term Republican, has been a standout in a pretty lackluster freshman class.
She has displayed a level head when discussing legislation and procedure.
Moore seems to be a little shy of the media, but long-time solons say she is doing the right things correctly, shying away from the firebrands and cautiously selecting her allies.
Her service on the school board back home may be an integral part of that demeanor and training.
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The first week, all the members meeting in their various caucuses is always stressful, but some newer members of the General Assembly ratcheted up the stress these last couple of weeks.
“I am sad. Very sad,” said one veteran Northwest Arkansas solon.
Why? Well, there is now apparently an extreme, hyper partisanship coming from the Northwest Arkansas delegation.
“And that partisanship is truly embarrassing.”
Formerly the weekly 3rd District caucuses were breakfast meetings. Each legislator bought their own breakfast and heard a speaker of interest from our area or discussed matters pertaining to the 3rd Congressional District.
Former Benton County State Rep. Dan Douglas organized this many years ago and kept it going.
The 3rd District Caucus stopped during the COVID outbreak and hadn’t begun again until the last couple of weeks.
An email invite went out for a 3rd district caucus meeting but that was followed by a second email clarifying that the meeting was FOR REPUBLICANS ONLY. What?
Some responded back to freshman state Senator Tyler Dees of Siloam Springs, who sent out the email, saying that the 3rd District Caucus is NOT a partisan caucus.
The purpose of the caucus was to discuss matters of interest to all of the legislators from the Congressional
District, not partisan policy.
It seems some of the freshmen GOP state Representatives and state Senators didn’t “feel comfortable discussing things” in mixed political company.
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After the dust-up about restarting the 3rd Congressional Caucus, only one Democrat — state Rep. Denise Garner of Fayetteville — showed up.
Where were David Whitaker and Nicole Clowney? Democrats need to be asking. Washington County folks need to be asking.
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The news gets worse in the House organizing itself.
The freshmen caucus had their organizational meeting and elected Bret McKenzie their leader.
And then a motion was made to make it a REPUBLICAN freshmen caucus, leaving out the only Democrat freshman, Tara Shepherd of Little Rock.
Another wrong move. There was also this typical move that the meeting was deliberately held at a time when a lot of freshmen couldn’t attend, and many who didn’t attend didn’t agree with the handling of such a move.
And so, it goes…
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We note the passing of long-time
Madison County political leader Charles Whorton, 98, of Huntsville. He spent eight years in the General Assembly and many, many more at various offices within Madison County.
He could always, and adding my emphasis, ALWAYS, be on the right side of good for improving Arkansas.
His death may not make the news in Little Rock, as it seems these newer legislators don’t seem to be beholding to remember their forebears, no matter what political stripe they served under.
Rest well, Charlie Whorton. Madison County, Northwest Arkansas and the state are better off because of your service.
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Long time observers are noting the 26 GOP votes for the first of a wave of bills on such topics as “Drag Shows” in the state Senate.
If such unreasonable social conscience bills will pass without lawsuits because of “protecting the children,” it could be a long, long session for civil rights and individual freedoms.
And maybe the teacher raises as well.