The Arkansas House of Representatives failed to override Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto of SB301 which would have returned fines collected by state agencies for failure to comply with rules, orders, or directives under the Governor’s Covid-19 proclamation.
Overriding a veto should ALWAYS be a slam dunk for the legislature because it only takes a majority vote to override a governor’s veto, and any bill sent to the governor has already passed by a majority vote or more.
The Senate voted to override the Governor’s veto with only Senator Bart Hester flipping from a “Yes” to a “No.” After the Senate took care of the matter on their end of the court, the question of whether to override the veto went to the House of Representatives.
The override should have been a spectacular slam dunk in the House not only because an override should always be easy but also because the House had originally passed the bill with 67 “yes” votes and only 51 “yes” votes were needed for the override.
On the override vote only 39 members of the House of Representatives voted “yes”. Far fewer than the 51 votes needed to override the veto and it was light years away from the 67 votes the bill received in the House only a couple of weeks ago. That means 28 Representatives who, despite having stood up against Asa two weeks ago, flipped to let his veto stand.
SB301 was a good bill that could have brought some healing from a very difficult 2020. Returning the fines would have eliminated some of the intense frustration over Asa administration’s Covid rules which at times were hard (impossible) to explain, for example the logic (if any) on why one group of businesses were treated differently from other businesses. Returning the fines would have also negated serious questions over whether Asa even had the authority for his edicts and agency directives.
What happened to make so many Representatives do a complete about face in only two weeks.?
- Did they flip their votes because until the veto they didn’t know Asa didn’t like the bill? No, everyone knew he hates for anyone to challenge his authority to be sole decider of pandemic do’s and don’ts.
- Did Asa remind the Representatives he has previously gotten involved in legislative races to help unseat Republicans who dare cross him?
- Did Asa remind the Representatives he and two other officials will be drawing the new boundaries of their districts for the 2022 election and legislators on his bad list just might be put in a district where they can’t win?
- Did Asa remind them he still has considerable power and authority over grants and appointments in their districts and legislators on his naughty list can expect ill treatment?
- Did Asa have a frowny face and they felt sad for him?
Whatever the case, missing such an easy slam dunk override is a stain on the constitutional authority of the legislatures and a stain on the reputation of those who flip on command of the Governor.
Here are the 28 Representative who voted to pass SB301 and send it to the Governor but who flipped and did not vote to override the veto which made the bill fail. NOTE: The official record shows no excused absences.
Boyd, Bragg, Breaux, Brown, Coleman, Cozart, Crawford, M. Davis, Eaves, Eubanks, Evans, C. Fite, L. Fite, V. Flowers, Hawks, Holcomb, Jean, L. Johnson, Ladyman, Lynch, Maddox, McNair, S. Smith, Tosh, Vaught, Wardlaw, Warren, and Wooten
Clicking on the Representative’s name takes you to the Representative’s contact information.
Here is a link to the House of Representatives vote failing to override the veto.