Monday, March 31, 2008

Live From The Special Session

As I write this from the House Chamber, we await the Governor's address to the members of both houses. Of course, his speech will center on the severance tax increase, and will include an outline of the legislation we'll be voting on. Just a sidebar here, but it is always an honor, and I believe a humbling experience, when we convene for a legislative session. There is always a great deal of pomp and circumstance involved, but to me that's a good thing.

The Governor made his remarks and urged us all to support and vote for his proposal. Now I'm off to my Judiciary Committee to deal with the marriage age issue that is also on this session's agenda.

There has been a small, but somewhat late effort from those against the severance tax. There position seems to be that we should provide more tax relief from the severance proceeds. I agree we should provide tax relief when it is possible; but I also believe highways have to be a priority, and this will be a step in the right direction to help with our future highway needs.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Here And There

The fund-raising season got started last night in Nevada County with the Laneburg VFD's hamburger supper and cake auction. Of course all the political candidates got to have a say, and a nice crowd from the area was there to take it in. Virtually all the cakes were bought by the politickers, (I paid $200 for a coconut) and Laneburg raised over $2,000.00 for their department. Good night of fun, and in my opinion, money well spent.

My seat-mate and good friend Representative Steve Harrelson's blog, Under the Dome, was chosen as one of the best political blogs in the country by the Washington Post. A well deserved honor and I agree whole-heartedly. Congrats Steve.

I'm heading to Little Rock in the morning as the legislature will convene at noon for the called Special Session. Everything I'm hearing says we should be done by Wednesday, and that is fine with me. Although I look forward to my first extraordinary session, everybody will be well served for us to be efficient and to the point. I expect everything to run smoothly, but you never know for sure how the world turns at the Capitol.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Everybody who has one of those wildly popular blackberry thing-a-ma-jigs, swears to me that they don't know how they made it without one. I for one believe them, because when I began walking the Capitol halls, everyone seemed to be staring at their hands for an inordinate amount of time. I finally figured out that it wasn't fingernail hygiene they were concerned with, but the highly addictive qualities of the blackberry technology. Now I'm the first to say that technology is a wonderful thing--- if you know how to use it. But sad to say, I'm not a techno-wizard. In fact, unless the blackberry people come up with a rotary dial for it, I doubt that I'll ever be able to use one. Having said all that, I did decide to come into this century, and I bought a blackberry yesterday. As you probably can imagine, I haven't learned how to e-mail, text or get on the web. Although I did place a successful phone call to my wife. We were both very proud that I made it that far. So if you see me in the halls of the Capitol, staring at my hand, I'm probably just checking my fingernails.

Severance Tax

As I posted previously, I will be in Little Rock on Monday to begin the special session that will deal mostly with the severance tax issue. I am on record as supporting the increase from.3% (the lowest in the nation) to 5%, with the proceeds dedicated to the infrastructure of our highways. There is overwhelming support in the legislature and from our constituents to do so. There has only been extremely mild sentiment against the increase. Also on board with this proposal are the gas companies themselves, and the royalty owners association. Looks like a done deal to me.

Potlach Closing

Word has filtered down that the Potlach plant in Prescott will be shutting its' doors soon, and all those Nevada County jobs will be gone in the process. Potlach has, for many years, been one of the two major employers in Prescott and the surrounding area. This is a major blow to our area's economy, and certainly not a time to be squandering economic projects as some of our hunting club friends advocate we do.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Special Session Coming

I just left the press conference of Governor Beebe's announcement that the legislature will convene in special session beginning on March 31st. The session will take up the Governor's proposal to raise the severance tax on natural gas to 5%. The current rate of .3% represents the lowest rate in the country. As most know, the required vote needed to pass the tax is a 3/4 majority in both houses. The Governor believes he has that, with 80 votes in the House, and 30 from the Senate. The tax proceeds will be dedicated to highway infrastructure, and though this won't take care of all highway needs, it is certainly a step in the right direction. Because of the relative comparison to other states' severance tax rates, and the true need for our highways, I made it known to the Governor many weeks ago of my support. 3-4 days should be all that is needed to pass this legislation and a couple of other items, including the age to marry, and this extraordinary session will be history.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Back To Blogging

I haven't been on the blog for quite a while. There are several reasons why and I've been plenty busy. But mostly I just kind of got out of the habit of getting on the computer and coming up with stuff to comment on. The break is over and there is plenty to talk about. Here's a few snippets.

Severance Tax- I don't know what the hold up is but we need to get this done and get it over with. It's evident that any ballot initiative will pass overwhelmingly and I would assume that the producers realize they will be better off if the Governor's proposal is enacted legislatively. I know some legislators seem to be waffling for whatever reason, and they're certainly free to do so, but in the end, I think the votes will be there and a special session is coming soon.

Opponent--I'll have a republican opponent, Evelyn Joyce Bradford, in the general election. She is the same lady who opposed me in the last election. I received 78% of the vote in 2006, but I'm not going to mail it in just because I won easily then. I'll be at all the auctions and knocking on doors, just like last time. I truly enjoy that part of the process. Good luck to Ms. Bradford and let's start our engines.

Personal Note--My good friend Scott Clark, an investigator with the State police, was wounded last Wednesday night in a shoot-out with a murder suspect, who was shot and killed in the fire-fight. I saw Scott at the hospital that night and he was doing ok, considering the circumstances. He is doing fine now, but will need some time to recuperate, both physically and emotionally. Frankie McJunkins, with the Hempstead County Sheriff's Department, and John Bishop of the State police, were also involved. Fortunately, neither was injured but will get a little time off to sort through the emotions of such a traumatic event. I mention this because all three are my friends, and each one is a true professional, who exhibited extraordinary bravery in an extremely tough situation.

Presidential Politics--The waters really seem to be getting muddied as the two Democrats slog through to the convention. Both have lost top campaign aides recently because of perceived slips of the tongue, that in my opinion, really didn't amount to much. However, they should have known better, simply because everybody who works with, or even knows these candidates, will be scrutinized under an intense microscope. It will all sort itself out in the next few months, but still too close to call.

Razorbacks--Arkansas to the sweet sixteen? Seems impossible I know. But I'll say this about this team, they can be very good or really mediocre. Which will it be? Your guess is as good as mine. Here's hoping the team that beat Vanderbilt, a #4 seed, and Tennessee, a #2, will show up against Indiana on Friday.