This year, Arkansas’s legislative session has by large been an embarrassing one. But if you squint, you can see a few glimmers of hope in the black hole that is our state government.
It’s certainly no easy feat to keep an optimistic attitude when going through the state news section of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. On Tuesday, the House rejected a bill that would require men and women in state government to be given equal pay, and it appears that the state is having to be strong-armed by a federal judge to restore Medicaid benefits to thousands of Arkansas citizens after the state’s work requirement was found unconstitutional (duh), and that’s just the first couple things that came up online while I’m typing this.
But, again, there are glimmers. On Monday, the House also rejected a bill filed by Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R-Elm Springs) that would roll back the pay increases for minors, small business employees and nonprofit employees (a similar bill filed by Sen. Bob Ballinger has also failed to gain traction).
Also, this week, it appears that a bill raising the homestead tax credit from $350 to $375 is making its way through the legislature (it initially passed the Senate, but has undergone some amendments and is making its way through the process). That doesn’t sound like a very big deal, but if passed, it would reportedly allocate $8.2 million for upgraded voting equipment for Arkansas counties, which could also probably add a few years to the lives of our election officials here who have been crunching numbers and redrawing precinct lines to try to figure out how to eventually pay for those machines.
And like previous sessions, we’ve also seen a lot of bills aimed at state Freedom of Information laws. The good thing, though, is that they’ve not made much headway (knock on wood).
We have a couple weeks left in this year’s session and if they’re like the previous two months, they might feel like an eternity. But there are a few wins for the common people of Arkansas to hang their hats on, and here’s to hoping for a few more before it’s over.