On Thursday February 25th, 2021, State Senator Stephanie Flowers (D-Pine Bluff) was once again removed from the Senate floor for disciplinary issues. This comes after berating State Senator Dan Sullivan (R- Jonesboro) for even proposing Senate Bill 301. Senator Flowers asked Senator Sullivan while he was presenting his bill when his lawsuit with the Governor would be over, igniting a tirade from her heaped upon him and then Lt. Governor Tim Griffin, as well.
This animosity in the Senate represents the polarized views of how the state government should be run. SB301 will require state agencies to quickly return the fines collected during the pandemic.
The bill had stiff opposition from the other side of the isle. Senator Jim Hendren (I-Sulphur Springs), who recently left the Republican party, made the statement, “ It seems this bill is more about turf war than the actual decisions you’re making to code;” to which Senator Sullivan retorted, “ It demonstrates our commitment to our constituents and that we want to be included in these decisions.” With a vote of 19 Yea’s, 14 Nay’s, and 1 No vote, SB301 passed the Senate floor and will now head to the House committee for further passage.
The passage of SB301 by the Senate represents a disconnect that exists between the recently elected legislators and their constituents, and the dictatorial behavior of the Governor.
The morning following the passage of SB301 by the Senate, Governor Asa Hutchinson quickly extended his COVID-19 “directives” for another month. They were previously set to expire the end of February but now are extended to March 31st. This extension includes the mask mandate. This directive comes on the heels of the Senate passage of the bill essentially gutting the power behind those directives by requiring the refund of their related fines.
The legislative and executive branches are somewhat moving in opposite directions making the average Arkansan question who really has their backs? Or maybe it’s making Governor Hutchinson question who really has his. Either way, the passage of SB301 by the Senate shows the Governor they definitely do not support his directives and neither do the interests and individuals these legislators represent. People in Arkansas are tired of being under-represented, over worked, and over fined.