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OPINION: Who is influencing who on legislation?

by Maylon Rice | October 20, 2021 at 5:25 a.m.

Who is running things down in Little Rock these days?

Is it our "lame duck" governor Asa Hutchinson, now in his seventh of an eight year stretch as the state's chief executive?

Or is it some far-right legislators who get along not even with their own party, but tend to bully each other and all of the General Assembly to narrowly approve tightly-controlled legislation?

This ill-crafted legislation, often proposed on the fly, is by all legal assessments a glaring "over-reach" of state government functions or blatantly unconstitutional attempts to limit the powers and functions of the people and only awaiting a judge to toss out all these efforts by court order?

Arkansans, those who hope that even in a tightly controlled GOP stranglehold of the state, that some semblance of fair play and democracy -- that is democracy with a little d -- can be adhered to in these circumstances.

But we have, at best, a governor, who cares more for not being overruled or getting into a scrum with his own party, than fighting for what's right for Arkansas.

Has what we once thought the brave and new face for the National Republican Party -- perhaps one among us who saw the previous President of the United States as a bully and unreasonable -- been cowered back into line by lower-level members of his own party?

Or has the new position of Chairman of the National Governor's Conference affected Asa Hutchinson's own politics?

As private a person as our chief executive tries to be, it is not his private thoughts and fears that troubles me this day, but his often political and motivational stances as Arkansas Governor.

Where has the "fight" in Asa Hutchinson gone?

It is little wonder than when Speaker of the House, Rep. Matthew Shepherd, took the often-unusual step to leave the Speaker's Rostrum and step down to the floor in an effort to thwart a bad bill last week, did so with the backing of the state's business community, but without any support of our governor.

And now on the heels of allowing these three rogue bills to become law without his signature, Gov. Hutchinson has once again acquiesced to the whims of those without solid footing in his own party for their political sway.

Members of Hutchinson's own political party took wide and punishing blows to him over not "become more engaged" in these bills at the committee and legislative tables. These same members sought to quiet fellow Republicans opposed to these bills with threats of party opposition in the election year ahead.

Some were calling the governor and his staff MIA (Missing In Action) when he could have adjusted, tamped down, or beaten these bills before they showed up on his desk to sign.

Hutchinson now seeks to call all these 135 legislators back at the end of the month for a quick session to reduce the state income tax burden upon those in our state making in excess of $250,000 a year.

But can the legislature be trusted to just answer the governor's 'call' agenda? I think not.

In fact, already State Senator Jason Rapert, R-Conway, brags about his filing a bill to mirror the Texas anti-abortion law which has many legal experts predicting a showdown of epic proportions. And Rapert further brags he has the votes, 67 percent of both houses to add it to the Governor's Agenda.

What Rapert hopes is such 'emotional' legislation can upset the apple cart for Arkansas. What a groundswell in Texas looks like over abortion, is an overthrow of the GOP Administration at least out of the Governor's Mansion in Austin, for any other political flavor in the Lone Star State.

That will never happen here? Or will it?

Stranger things have happened over the public uneasiness and brazen actions of a political party in charge.

-- Maylon Rice is a former journalist who worked for several northwest Arkansas publications. He can be reached via email at [email protected] The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Print Headline: Who is influencing who on legislation?


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