Governor Asa Hutchinson addressed Arkansas Farm Bureau members at the organization’s state meeting on December 1. Obviously, he solicited support for his tax cut legislation which will be presented next week at a special session of the legislature. But he went further, asking the members to keep their legislators from introducing legislation on other subjects, such as Critical Race Theory and abortion.
In asking the audience to stop legislation on other subjects, Hutchinson insinuated the introduction of bills on Critical Race Theory and abortion would distract legislators from achieving tax cuts. He also insinuated that addressing such issues would be a distraction from the legislators’ constitutional duties. Both ideas are false!
Would the introduction of legislation on other subjects distract from the tax cut legislation and possibly endanger its passage? OF COURSE NOT. In a special session legislators cannot consider their own legislation until they declare they have finished their work on issues in the governor’s call. Legislation on Critical Race Theory or abortion cannot distract from work on tax cuts because the issues can’t even be debated until work on the governor’s agenda is complete.
Would the legislature be straying from its constitutional duties if it considers its own legislation during a special session? NO. The constitution SPECIFICALLY ALLOWS the legislature to consider other issues. Legislators would be shirking their responsibility if they adopted a position of never considering important issues outside a governor’s agenda in a special session.
Apparently, Governor Hutchinson doesn’t want the legislature to consider legislation banning Critical Race Theory or strengthening abortion law until he is out of office.
“But the Arkansas Constitution allows lawmakers to consider a wide range of bills in a regular session every two years, he said.” – Arkansas Democrat Gazette
The next regular session is not until 2023. But the Arkansas Constitution doesn’t think issues must wait that long. Not only does the constitution allow the legislature to consider any issue in the special session it also makes sure they can consider important issues in the Fiscal Session in even numbered years. To consider important issues in a special session or Fiscal Session requires approval by two-thirds of the Arkansas Senate and Arkansas House of Representatives.
Asa said school boards should decide whether to allow the teaching of Critical Race Theory. Why not a statewide policy? It is certainly not because Hutchinson thinks the state should not be involved in school policy. There are VOLUMES of state laws and state regulations managing schools and their curriculum. Hutchinson hasn’t tried to reduce the number of state school laws and he hasn’t tried to reduce the number of state regulations HIS Department of Education imposes.
They only thing we can think of is he or his handlers want our children to be taught the racist and discredited Critical Race Theory, and he is just making lame excuses.
We hope the members of the Farm Bureau saw through Governor Hutchinson’s carefully crafted words which would be better spread on one of their fields.
For more on the Governor’s speech see the December 2 Arkansas Democrat Gazette article, Hutchinson seeks farm group’s help keeping legislative session focus on tax cut proposals.