From the Arkansas Statehouse...

Week in review.

In General Business on 6 February 2009 at 3:46 pm

The House of Representatives narrowly passed a bill raising the state tax on tobacco after weeks of heated debate. House Republicans objected to the measure and hosted Dick Armey to speak against it on Tuesday. House Minority Leader Rep. Bryan King suggested that the state should close one of its two law schools to raise money instead of raising taxes. Argument continued up to the very vote, as opponents shouted at Rep. Greg Reep while he presented the bill on the House floor. Rep. Mark Martin later apologized to the whole body for being among the hecklers.

Rep. Martin failed to persuade the Senate Health Committee that it should allow the sale of small quantities of unpasteurized cow’s milk. His proposed bill failed on an extremely close voice vote. No member of the committee asked for a roll call vote. The House Judiciary Committee heard over an hour of debate on whether holders of a concealed-carry permit should be allowed to bring guns into churches. It eventually said yes. The same committee debated whether the criminal records of public officials should be made generally available, but it did not take action. The House passed a bill allowing independent candidates for office an extra 30 days to collect enough signatures to be allowed on the ballot. The Senate approved a one-cent cut of the state grocery tax.

The Senate passed Sen. Kim Hendren’s resolution commemorating Ronald Reagan. Sen. Hendren said he would support a similar measure honoring Jimmy Carter. The House State Agencies committee approved a resolution congratulating Barack Obama after rejecting a similar one that called the United States a nation founded by slave owners. The new resolution refers instead to “a country whose history includes the shame of slavery.” Cliff Lee received a ceremonial award and declared Derek Jeter a difficult batsman to retire. Rep. Buddy Lovell told the House of Representatives that a bill he sponsored doesn’t really do anything. The bill, HB1345, passed.

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