Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Turk Appealed

The intervenors expected appeal of the PSC's decision in the SWEPCO power plant case was filed with the Arkansas Court of Appeals on Tuesday. The appeal itself should not halt progress on construction of the plant, but the pending decision by ADEQ on the air quality permit has in effect kept the construction process at a crawl. Only minor site preparation work can be done until a permit is issued or denied. The hope is that ADEQ can make their decision in the spring, and if it grants a permit, construction should be able to proceed at a faster clip. The intervening party's appeal was not a surprise to anyone following this case. Even though a major hurdle was cleared with the PSC's earlier decision, there are still some battles left before the Turk plant becomes a reality in Hempstead County.

Monday, January 28, 2008

And The Winner is....

Just a week away from Super Tuesday and your guess is as good as mine. This has been the most topsy turvy campaign season in my memory, and just when you've got it figured, well you don't. Great fun for political junkies though. Can Hillary rebound from South Carolina? Is our former Governor's momentum slowing to a crawl? Can the bonafide hero hold off the well monied governor? I can't say anything for sure except you better not count anybody out. Not even the Giants on Sunday. It's been that crazy of a year.

Special Session?

Who knows? There has been a fair amount of talk over the past week about the Governor calling a special session to deal with the severance tax issue. He speculated a few days ago that if he could get a consensus from lawmakers in favor of raising the current rate, he very well might call us into session. I doubted it then and after seeing reports over the week-end, I am fairly certain it won't be happening soon. My stance on the severance tax is simply that I believe the tax on extracting the gas has always been too low, but I'm having mixed emotions about jumping in and raising the tax now that the Fayetteville shale play is booming. I'd like to see a definitive plan on how much of an increase we're talking about and exactly where the money would go before I make a decision. I would also like some input from my constituents because ultimately, they could have the chance to vote on this very issue come November. I think that is the best solution since any action in the ledge will take a 3/4 majority, and in my opinion, that would be virtually impossible to do.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Tom Brokaw Had Him Pegged

A giant of a man will celebrate his 85th birthday on Saturday. I should say that the giant I'm talking about barely scrapes 5' 10'' and weighs in at maybe 175 lbs. Certainly not a giant by any standard. But you have to use a different measuring stick when you talk about those of "The Greatest Generation". It's important that you measure the life-long committments to their God, their Country and their Family. Plenty of skeptics will say those values are out-dated and even corny. Well no matter what they say, they can't deny that without the giants and great Americans like my father, Leland Powers, who fought to save our world during the 1940's, none of us would be where we are today. The old saying goes that many of us got to our stations in life by standing on the shoulders of giants. I know that's got to be true because I've been perched atop my Daddy's for way too long. I want to thank him for that and wish him the happiest birthday ever. I pray he knows that if he ever gets tired of holding me up, I would be honored to change places, so he can see forever one more time.

Treacherous Traveling

As I lit out for Little Rock this morning I really had no idea how dangerous the roadways were. The trip from Hope to LR normally takes about an hour and thirty minutes, and thats driving the speed limit. Today's jaunt to the Capitol was a three and one half hour exercise in driving hell. The low temps and falling rain made for a deadly combination. Sadly there was one reported fatality just past Arkadelphia this morning; and coming home this evening, I saw another wreck close to Malvern that may have been just as bad. Cars were littered all over the sides of I-30 today, and why it never sinks in for every driver to slow down and pay full attention to what they're doing is beyond me. I'm sure most folks don't want to be on the highways in these conditions, but if you have to be there, extreme caution in this type of weather has to be the rule.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Here And There

I attended a noon time celebration today honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, at the Providence Missionary Baptist church here in Hope. A good crowd was there and heard Congressman Mike Ross and Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Angie Taylor, provide the keynote addresses. It was a good cross section of our community and I appreciate the opportunity to be involved.

Steve Harrrelson has an interesting spot on his blog about a Representative from Arizona who is introducing legislation aimed at penalizing those legislators who miss votes. The penalty being discussed is to dock the missing legislator a day's pay. His theory that being a legislator means voting your conscience and providing a voice for your constituents on each and every bill sounds reasonable to me. Having said that, no matter how reasonable it sounds, there are times when meetings can't be avoided and ultimately a decision on missing a vote or making a meeting has to be made. Those are not always easy decisions. I personally try to make all the votes and schedule meetings when we aren't in session. Though I don't think this type of legislation will be filed, if it were, exceptions on sickness and emergencies would have to be included.

The New England Patriots have been installed as 13 1/2 point favorites over the New York Giants in the upcoming Super Bowl. Here's my take on that---I believe the Giants have a better than outside shot to upset the perfect Patriots. The two weeks will give the Giants secondary a chance to heal up, and the Giants are one of the few teams that can put pressure on the QB without blitzing. Eli will have to play well and the Giants can't lose the turn-over battle. If all that happens, the game should be close, with the Giants having their shot.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Speaker-Elect Wills

The House convened yesterday to elect the Speaker of the House for the upcoming 2009 Session. Since Rep David Dunn withdrew his candidacy just before Christmas, it was really just a formality to make Rep. Robbie Wills (D)-Conway, our Speaker-elect. Robbie was allowed to make a 15 minute speech, and he did an excellent job of conveying his hopes and expectations to the 86 legislators gathered in the House chamber. I believe there will be some tough issues coming down the road as we near 2009; but after hearing the Speaker-elect describe his passion and respect for our institution of government, I am more confident than ever that Robbie Wills is the man for the job.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Harrelson's Got Video

My good friend in Texarkana, Rep. Steve Harrelson, has taken his blog to a new level with a weekly video report. I'm sure most everyone who takes the time to visit here probably knows about Steve's blog, Under the Dome. He is really the best at this blogging business and keeps everybody updated with what's going on. As I said back during the session when a TV reporter interviewed me about Steve's website--If you really want to know what's going on around the Capitol, just go to Harrelson's blog. Keep up the good work Steve.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

And Down The Stretch They Come!

With the opening of Oaklawn Park just nine days away, it comes to mind that the best horse racing of the year may take place in the Democratic and Republican primaries. But who's the frontrunner as they slide down the backstretch and enter the final turn for home? I sure couldn't tell you. But I was so certain last August when Hillary and Mitt were putting up those big poll numbers. The truth is, that each one started with an inside trip on a speed favoring racetrack. Both shot quickly from the gate and had a big lead on the field as they headed into the first turn. Nothing or nobody was going to catch these fine tuned and well financed front runners. But wait--what's this--? It's 2008, and the Iowa winter takes its' toll on the track and turns the rail dirt heavy and soft. The inside is not the fast firm footing it was during late summer, and both juggernauts are starting to get leg weary. As the early leaders shorten their stride, a high strung 3 year old colt from Illinois lopes up to Hillary with long confident strides. Obama's pre-race stategy of being the agent of change has the young infield whipper-snappers slapping programs on their legs and screaming for their pick to take the lead. He does just that and sticks his head in front for the first time. The frenzied young-uns on the infield head for the windows to collect their bets. The swagger and overconfidence of youth won't serve them well on this day, because New Hampshire has given Hillary her second wind and now she charges back into the lead. Hillary's jockey, the wily veteran Bill, has his steed back in the race with a retooled message and a kinder, gentler persona. Separating himself from the rest of the pack is the fiery veteran campaigner, Lawyer John. But there's too much ground to make up and he'll have to settle for the show. Hillary and Obama race neck and neck for Super Duper Tuesday and it's gonna take a photo to pick the headbobbing winner. .
Back to the Republicans, it seems as if Iowa and New Hampshire have Mitt mired in the mud, with Thompson being left in the gate, and Rudy a late scratch. But on the outside you've got yourself a real horse race. The old iron horse, McCain, is using all the savvy he can muster to stave off the upset bid of the longest shot on the board, Huckabee. As McCain and Huckabee glide past the tiring early favorite, both are jockeying for position. Pundits and media type scurry around the grandstands, shaking their heads in amazement as they watch this race unfold. Huckabee uses Iowans and his everyman approach to forge to the lead. But McCain, a true American hero, has seen a lot tougher spots than this, and New Hampshire puts him on even terms with the upstart Arkansas bred. As they turn into the stretch, it's too close to call for both parties, so lets just sit back, have a corned beef, and enjoy our time at the races.