Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Four Legislators Control Special Session?

Four Powerful Legislators Control Special Session Bills

Regarding the special session on education, "Senate President Pro Tempore Jim Argue, D-Little Rock, said the education committees are close to a consensus, but how the full Legislature might react to the committees’ ideas 'is a complete unknown.'"

If Senator Argue would share some of that consensus information with other legislators, perhaps some headway could be made. We have heard legislators complain (and many citizens share that complaint!) that Senator Argue, Senator Broadway, Senator Bisbee, and Representative Jodie Mahony write these education bills behind closed doors and then spring it on the rest of the legislators and ram them through without legislative members having time to study them or to formulate their own legislation
. These bills are the ones legislators refer to as "the train having already left the station" by the time they get to the floor.



Blogger Nom Deguerre said...

Legislators have said that if these four men would share their draft legislation with the other legislators now before the special session, it would give them a chance to study the bills and have a real part in the decisions that are made. Then Argue would have some clue as to "how the Legislature might react." In a recent AP story Benny Petrus, D-Stuttgart, House speaker-designate said, "Until you get it down on paper where people can be a part of the process, it's hard to say what someone is for or against." However, the "powerful four" are probably not going to release their draft legislation unless the media kicks in and puts some pressure on them to do so.

The facilities law, Act 90, that took over all the facilities in Arkansas, and which has caused the legislative body so much trouble, was one of those that was crafted by the powerful legislators and rammed through at the end of the session. It passed the House at 10:19 and the Senate at 3:49 the last day of the session, Feb. 4, 2004, without most legislators even knowing what it meant, and a discussion of its content was not even reported in the paper for weeks after it passed - until a journalist brought it up in one of his columns.

Most people are not aware that the Facilities Bill, Act 90 (HB 1009) was voted down three times before it became an amendment to Pickett's bill. It was originally part of Senator Argue's SB 28, in HB 11106 by Calvin Johnson, in Jodie Mahoney's HB 1119 and then as an amendment to Picket's 1009.

There were 7 versions of the bill and 6 amendments to the bill before they were able to confuse legislators enough to get it passed in the hectic last hours of the session. These guys were determined to this bill passed by hook or crook, and they did. That bill resulted in a $2.3 BILLION dollar estimate for adequate facilities which swells to 4.5 BILLION for five years. Those are the type of things that can happen when legislation is sprung on legislators. It would never have passed had the majority of legislators had time to fully grasp the ramifications of the bill. Seven new positions have already been created in the Arkansas Facilities Division. Ohio Facilities Division started with one and now has 50.

"Sen. Shane Broadway, D-Bryant, the legislative architect of the state’s fledgling school building program, acknowledged that it’s going to be difficult to reach a consensus soon enough to have a session this month. Educating lawmakers who don’t serve on the education committees about the committees’ recommendations 'may take some time due to the members’ schedules,” he said.

Again, sharing draft legislation would be the best way to educate these legislators. That would give the legislators a basis for their own studies and alternate solutions.

Senator Steve Faris, D-Central said as much when he commented “Those of us not on the education committees need more time to read the legislation before we go in and rubber stamp something that could be detrimental to our districts…I just think there is nothing that can be done in March that can’t be done in April or June."

Quotes above were taken from AR Dem Gazette, March 3, 06 by Michael Wickline http://www.nwanews.com/adg/News/147473/
and from The Cabin.net. March 6 http://thecabin.net/stories/030506/loc_0305060006.shtml

11:52 AM, March 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't see Bill Pritchard's name among the Powerful Four, but to hear him tell it he is THE main man for all education legislation. I guess he is quietly working behind the scenes and telling Bisbee and Mahony what to do. If people only knew how powerful and important Pritchard is, he wouldn't be listed among the Ten Worst by the Democrat-Gazette.

8:50 PM, March 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ha ha ha!

8:57 PM, March 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those four, and really all of them, are being placed in an unfair position by the courts. It will come down to either a big tax increase or telling the courts to buzz off.

7:11 AM, March 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After sitting in on most of the Education meetings I don't see a conspiracy or back door plan to draft legislation and "ram" it down anyone's throat. Everyone that has an idea or question is heard in these meetings. Beginning yesterday, the figures that are being used to come up with the new money that some feel has to be added to education is being voted on by all that attend the education hearings and who are members of either the House or Senate Education Committees. The four mentioned each have one vote and the votes taken yesterday were not decided by a four vote margin. Therefore, the entire Education Committees of both the House and the Senate are making these decisions and that means 20 members of the House and 7 members of the Senate. Since the process is still on-going on hashing out numbers and arriving at consensus in the committee of 27 then would not be responsible to think that legislation has already been drafted because there is not clear picture of what the committee will recommend at its final meeting on March 16th.

Let's at least accept, then, that there are only FOUR people making the decisions. Let it also be said that these FOUR people are willing to work nights and weekends while the rest of us enjoy our outside activities and homelife and wait on someone to lay something down in front of us to vote approve or disapprove.

I am not a member of the FOUR, I am not on either the House or Senate Education Committee but I have been there. Please get away from the big conspiracy that FOUR people are making the decisions.

Any legislation proposed has to get through 2 committee processes and the full vote of the House and Senate to become law. That involves all 135 members of the Legislature not FOUR!

2:49 PM, March 08, 2006  
Anonymous Mark Moore said...

I think those ARE four dedicated legislators. Nom Deguerre (I am not the author) is not advancing a conspiracy theory, but rather reporting on the compliants that LEGISLATORS have made to Nom behind closed doors and to the papers.

AW is not claiming this, AW has posted a story saying that certain legislators are saying it.

Now why would that be?

7:29 PM, March 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have any of the Lt. Governor candidates been involved in the process to decide what to do about the school issue? What are their suggestions about what we should do? I hope they aren't just sitting back and hoping to be against everything without having some bills or ideas to be voted on.

This would be a real way to decide who is the leader and who isn't. I don't want them to tell me what they are AGAINST, that is easy. I want them to tell me what they are FOR, put it on paper. Hey, I would be pleased if they backed someones else's ideas if they were saying, "This is what I am for and what I will work to get passed."

Same goes for the Governor candidates. How do they think we should solve this problem?

9:13 PM, March 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a good idea how Jim Holt would handle it, but it requires that the ledge think "outside the box" that they are currently trapped in. They have not shown much inclination to do that yet: eventually they will have to.

How can they please the courts with $$$ without angering the people with a big tax increase? That is the box they are trapped in.

9:29 PM, March 08, 2006  
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12:51 PM, April 23, 2007  

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