When medical marijuana almost died in the House

Rep. Doug House makes his case for HB 1058.
By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

There was a moment this past week when the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, approved by 53 percent of the voters in November, looked like it might effectively die in the Arkansas House of Representatives.

On Tuesday, Rep. Doug House, R-North Little Rock, presented that chamber the first two of a number of bills meant to fix problems with the amendment, which the Legislature can do with a two-thirds vote.

One of the bills, House Bill 1058, modified a section of the amendment requiring physicians to certify that marijuana’s benefits would outweigh the harm to a particular patient, after which the Department of Health would give the patient a card letting them purchase the drug. That kind of language puts physicians in jeopardy of being sued because there’s no accepted national standard for the use of marijuana, which remains illegal in the United States. So under House’s bill, the physician would merely certify that a patient has one of the conditions that qualify for use of the drug under the amendment.

He was playing chess; she was playing checkers

By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

Donald Trump won the Republican Party nomination because he was playing checkers while the other candidates were playing chess, and it was a checkers year. In November, the opposite happened: He checkmated Hillary Clinton while she was playing checkers.

Remember the primaries? Those 16 other mostly conventional Republican candidates were all playing chess – trying to execute their grand strategies and position themselves for Trump’s inevitable fade, or to be the last person standing against him. While they were staring at the chessboard, he just kept bouncing from state to state on the checkerboard until he reached the back row and shouted, “King me!”

In the general election, however, it was Clinton who tried to play checkers, while Trump realized it had become a chess match.

Voters might support highway taxes, but they want to choose

By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

This may be true: Arkansans believe the state’s highways need work, and many are willing to pay to improve them, but not at the pump. And this definitely is true: They want to make that choice, not have it made for them.

That’s based on a recent poll of 800 Arkansans by the Arkansas Good Roads Foundation. Ninety percent said the state’s highways “are in need of repair,” but 62 percent said they opposed increasing fuel taxes, which are the primary source of road funding. Support increased when told those taxes haven’t been raised in 15 years, but even then only 48 percent supported increasing them just 1-3 cents per gallon. The numbers dropped dramatically for higher amounts so that only 5 percent supported an increase of 5-8 cents. We can’t fix the roads on 1-3 cents.

Could Monday be Arkansas’ last King-Lee holiday?

By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

On Monday, Arkansans will join Mississippians and Alabamians in honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and General Robert E. Lee on the same day.

It might be the last time for Arkansas.

The three states are the only ones that combine the holidays – and that includes Lee’s home state of Virginia, which separated them in 2000.

The dual holiday here stems from the fact that Arkansas was already celebrating Lee’s birthday each Jan. 19 when the King holiday was created in 1983 and set for the third Monday of each January. Because the holidays were right on top of each other, legislators combined them in 1985. Then-Gov. Bill Clinton signed the legislation.