Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Washington Politics in the Arkansas House

Today, the Senate voted against suspending the rules to consider the Trucker Tax Repeal resolution so the issue was dead right?  Wrong!

The House Democrats proposed an amendment to the DFA-Disbursing appropriation that would push back the start of the Trucker Tax Exemption to July 2013. The amendment only needed 51 votes to be attached to the appropriation (vs the 67 needed for the resolution).  It was passed via a voice vote then something very interesting happened.

Several members of the House called for a roll call vote.  A couple of seconds afterwards, a member called for a vote by division.  The Speaker of the House ignored the call for a roll call vote and proceeded with the vote by division.

The vote by division is simply members standing and being counted.  It is a way to vote and not have it recorded.

Yes, you read that right.  Democrats didn't want to go on record as to whether they voted for this amendment or not.

If you want to see if your Representative stood or not, here is a link to the video:

The actual standing vote takes place at about the 19 min mark.

What happened today set a dangerous precedent and should have been outright rejected.  The voters in Arkansas wanted the legislature to focus on the budget during the fiscal session. There was a specific way  outlined for other issues outside of the normal fiscal avenue to be addressed.  What happened today was not the way.

The next couple of days will be interesting to watch.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fiscal Session Update- Week of February 13th

No one knows what goes on behind closed doors, until someone has the courage to force them open. During week one of the Fiscal Session, Republican lawmakers opened the doors of state government by giving the traditionally Democratic-controlled, behind the curtain state budgeting process a kick in the teeth.

Rather than blindly consenting to Gov. Mike Beebe’s budget, Republican lawmakers offered a more conservative state budget proposal which would be $21 million smaller than the Governor’s $4.72 billion general revenue budget for 2013.

House Concurrent Resolution 1008 was filed on Monday to allow a budget alternative to be considered by the majority-Democrat House Rules Committee, yet legislators across the aisle refused to consider our trimmer budget plan.  During the Fiscal Session, a two-thirds vote is required to pass a resolution so that non-appropriation bills like the state budget, also known as the Revenue Stabilization Act (RSA), can be considered and voted on by the General Assembly.  

Battles for efficiency in the way our state spends taxpayer money are battles well fought for the people of Arkansas. With the over half a million dollars recently discovered in one state agency to rescue the drowning state Forestry Commission from a budget shortfall, it’s clear there are meaningful spending reductions to be made, we just have to be willing to find them.

Our Republican budget proposal would reduce some state agency funding levels by 3 percent less than what the Governor has proposed.  As a result, we’re asking agency directors to find where they can operate with less money.  When Arkansas families tighten their belts, government bureaucrats need to as well.  

Asking state agencies to do more with less not only ensures taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely, but also helps our state prepare for the looming $250 million Medicaid shortfall projected for next fiscal year. Because roughly 25 percent of Arkansans are currently enrolled in Medicaid, with that number expected to grow due to President Obama’s health care law, we must be proactive in guaranteeing the money will be there when Arkansas families need it most.

Hardworking Arkansas taxpayers deserve a more responsible, transparent government, but the Democratic-controlled legislature is defiant to change. Both political parties should be given an opportunity to bring constructive ideas and input to the table so that we can reach an agreement and pass a bi-partisan budget that benefits the citizens of this state.

Moving forward, I will keep you updated on our budget proposal and how we are working to reduce spending and protect the benefits of Medicaid.

As I continue to serve you during the Fiscal Session, my focus remains on holding state government accountable to the taxpayers of Arkansas. Please contact me with any issues, questions or concerns you may have. My email is

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Rep. David Meeks Joins Supreme Court Brief Challenging Obamacare

Rep. David Meeks Joins Supreme Court Brief Challenging Obamacare

Conway, Ark. – On Monday, Republican Rep. David Meeks of Conway joined an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court arguing that the individual mandate found in President Barack Obama's health care law is unconstitutional.

“As a member of the state Legislature, I am committed to seeing that President Obama’s job-killing health care law does not take root in Arkansas,” said Meeks. “In addition to the constitutional question of forcing Arkansans to purchase insurance or face a fine, we have also seen how the health care law is directly attacking the freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment.”

Last month, the names of several Democratic leaders in the Arkansas General Assembly surfaced on a Supreme Court brief arguing that Obamacare is constitutional and they “are working hard in their States to implement the Act in a timely, efficient, and effective manner.”

“I wholeheartedly disagree with my Democratic colleagues that we must force Obamacare onto the people of this state, and will continue fighting on behalf of hardworking Arkansas taxpayers,” said Meeks.

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments for Obamacare challenges on March 26, 27 and 28 of 2012.

To read the Supreme Court Brief signed by 58 Arkansas Republican Legislators, click here.

To read the brief signed by Democratic Legislators, click here.