Monday, February 22, 2016

The Lieutenant Governor Used to Do Something

The Arkansas Times had a very slanted report about the history of the use of the 3/4ths majority requirement for most appropriation bills in Arkansas. This is under the auspices of Amendment 19. Well the thing that caught my eye in the article is who made the call on whether spending bills passed without a 3/4ths majority would make it to the Governor's desk or not. I feel sure it was the most critical state issue of the day. It turns out it was the Lieutenant Governor, acting I imagine in his now-abandoned Constitutional role as President of the Senate. A quote from the article...
After Futrell got his amendment ratified in 1934, his philosophy changed overnight when President Roosevelt threatened to cut off all aid to Arkansas. From rabid foe of taxing and spending he became a pleader for more of them. The legislature obliged.
But a number of his spending bills couldn't get the three-fourths majority in one house or the other. On one day the Senate passed seven appropriations that were not for schools, highways or Confederate pensions but fell short of the three-fourths vote. Lt. Gov. Lee Cazort declared them passed anyway as just debts or necessary spending. His view was that Gov. Futrell wrote Amendment 19 and if he did not think the bills got enough votes he could not sign them. Futrell signed them.
 Spending bills must originate in the house. That means they must end up in the Senate. That means the final call of whether they passed is determined in the senate. Currently the Senate elects their own President Pro Tem from among their own members. It is Jonathan Dismang right now. If such circumstances were repeated on some other issue there would be a rash of lawsuits I am sure. There would be pressure from all directions. Back in the 1930's that final decision was made by someone who answered to all of the voters of the state. Now, its not.


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