Our Voices Arkansas

The Voices of Grassroots Conservatives Across Arkansas

Feb 3, 2015

GOP Lawmakers Are Fast-Tracking SB96

Republican lawmakers have greased the Legislative wheels for the Governor’s “Private Option” bill — SB96 — sponsored by GOP Senator Jim Hendren. Introduced January 22, this critically important bill has been in the public eye for only 12 days, allowing very little time for questions and discussion with lawmakers. Unfortunately — or conveniently, depending on...

by OurVoicesAR

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GOP-Lawmakers-Fast-Tracking-SB96Republican lawmakers have greased the Legislative wheels for the Governor’s “Private Option” bill — SB96 — sponsored by GOP Senator Jim Hendren.

Introduced January 22, this critically important bill has been in the public eye for only 12 days, allowing very little time for questions and discussion with lawmakers.

Unfortunately — or conveniently, depending on your point of view — the official record for SB96 doesn’t include the names of the 23-odd Representatives who are co-sponsoring the bill — although GOP Representatives Kelley Linck and Joe Farrer are two of them.  Farrer, who strongly opposed the Private Option in years past, helped craft SB96.

But after passing the Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee today on a voice vote, SB96 is poised for a quick slide on Thursday to final passage on the House floor — only 14 days after its introduction, despite repeated pleas from grassroots activists to slow the process.

Just 7 days after introduction, GOP support slid SB96 through the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee last Thursday on a 6-1 vote, and then aced the subsequent Senate floor vote 27-7.

Before that vote Senator Hendren, who is sponsoring the legislation for his uncle Governor Hutchinson, discussed the bill for an entire 15 minutes on the Senate floor, saying in part:

It’s the vision that the Governor laid out for how we can pass the impasse that we’ve struggled with in the last couple of years.  It doesn’t solve the problem, it doesn’t end the discussion, but it certainly gives us time to, I think, find some common ground and a path forward.

At today’s House Committee meeting, PO opponent GOP Representative Richard Womack asked “Would the sponsors of this bill be willing to consider moving that end date for the expansion population from 12-31 back any at all, as an assurance to my constituents that the private option is dead and there’s no intent to carry this program further?” but SB96 passed anyway.

Pundits are fond of saying the voters are not stupid.  Clearly we can see the Governor has had the luxury of several weeks to persuade lawmakers to support his approach before unveiling this plan to the public — but now he and his supporters want to jam it through with only a few days of public input.  Why the rush?

Why are Republican lawmakers shoving the Governor’s Private Option bill through so quickly without opportunity for meaningful input from their base, conservative voters?

What is there to hide?  How is this any different than passing a bill “so we can see what’s in it”?  It appears we have no choice but to wait — hopefully not another 2 years! — to find out more about our new Republican Governor’s plans.

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