by Conduit for Action
There is a huge difference between Arkansas’ Governor Asa Hutchinson and Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis. And, it is no wonder people around the country are hoping DeSantis will be a future president of the United States.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis with Florida’s clemency board just granted pardons to all individuals fined for violations of mask mandates implemented by local governments, plus DeSantis had resisted statewide mandates.[i]
DeSantis said, “This action is necessary so that we can recover, have a good transition to normal operations, and also just a recognition that a lot of this stuff was way, way overboard.”
Governor Asa Hutchinson took the opposite path from Governor DeSantis.
Earlier this year the Arkansas legislature passed legislation to require state agencies to give back fines levied under Hutchinson’s Covid-19 orders, but Hutchinson vetoed the bill. The bill was SB301 by Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Jonesboro). The Arkansas Senate voted to override Hutchinson’s veto and sent the bill to the House of Representatives for a vote to override. But, the House caved into the Governor’s demand to punish the people by keeping the fines. The House didn’t manage to get the simple majority vote needed to override. (A simple majority in the Arkansas House of Representatives is only 51 out of 100.)[Also see: Legislature Misses Slam Dunk]
Arkansas had the opportunity to set the tone for getting back to normal. Fail! Governor Hutchinson and a majority of the House of Representative chose to punish and keep the money at a time when the state has a record revenue surplus.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Ask your Senator and Representative to support an effort to refile and pass Senator Sullivan’s bill when the legislature returns from its recess this fall.
Also, Governor Hutchinson is planning a special session of the legislature sometime this fall and that is another opportunity to do the right thing. The legislature has the right to consider any subject they want after they consider the items in the Governor’s call. It only takes a two-thirds vote of the members of the House and Senate to consider their own issues in a special session.[ii]
Term limits keeps Governor Hutchinson from running for governor again. His term expires at the end of next year. But it would not hurt to let him know you expect better leadership.
[ii] Arkansas Constitution Article 6 § 19. Extraordinary sessions of General Assembly — Calling — Purposes. The Governor may, by proclamation, on extraordinary occasions, convene the General Assembly at the seat of government, or at a different place, if that shall have become, since their last adjournment, dangerous from an enemy or contagious disease; and he shall specify in his proclamation the purpose for which they are convened; and no other business than that set forth therein shall be transacted until the same shall have been disposed of; after which they may, by a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to both houses, entered upon their journals, remain in session not exceeding fifteen days.