Category Archives: State government

After legislators meet, marijuana more limited but still legal

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

It was a good legislative session for some (gun rights supporters), a bad one for others (supporters of more highway spending), and for supporters of medical marijuana, it was as good as could be expected.

The amendment passed by Arkansas voters in November could be amended with a two-thirds vote by legislators, and at least that percentage likely voted against it, as did Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. There were ample opportunities these past three months for those lawmakers to mostly overturn the amendment overtly or subversively. But the attitude among many legislators and the governor was that regardless of what they believed about the amendment, the people voted for it, so their democratic duty was to make it work.

What’s a legislative session like? Controlled chaos

Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, testifies before a House committee about his bill allowing guns on college campuses. Often, committee meetings are standing room only.
By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

Now that the regular session lacks only a planned one-day return May 1 before adjournment, 12 legislators have written letters to their chambers asking the record to reflect they didn’t mean to vote a certain way on a particular bill, as reported in Monday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

That’s not a big deal. Over three months, the state’s 135 legislators filed 2,069 bills, 1,074 of which have become law. They recorded, between them, hundreds of thousands of votes, so a few fumbles are to be expected. None of the 12 mistakes affected the outcome of legislation.

The news does present an opportunity to describe what a legislative session looks like, which is, in two words, controlled chaos.

How technology helps you avoid paying taxes

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

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve cut your own taxes in recent years by evading them, probably unwittingly, thanks to the internet.

That would apply to you if you are buying products online these days from an out-of-state seller who doesn’t collect sales taxes, even though state law says they’re just as due as if you bought the goods from your local merchant. The local merchants certainly don’t like that, because it means the prices they charge are 8-9 percent higher through no fault of their own.

Execution imagery

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

“Image,” tennis player Andre Agassi said in a commercial in his younger, long-haired days, “is everything.”

That’s not true, of course, and Agassi grew to deeply regret uttering the words. But for any state trying to compete in a global economy, while image isn’t everything, it’s certainly a lot.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who has crisscrossed the globe trying to sell Arkansas to potential investors, knows this. That’s why in this past legislative session he played defense against any potential bill that would impose state bathroom standards like North Carolina’s law, which cost the state 400 jobs from Paypal alone and was recently repealed. It also was a motivation for his spending a fistful of political capital moving the state’s commemoration of Gen. Robert E. Lee to a Saturday in October, far from its previous home on the same day as the Martin Luther King Holiday. Now only two former Confederate states, Mississippi and Alabama, celebrate the civil rights leader and the Civil War general on the same day.