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OPINION: Arkansas’ ‘New Day’ Dawning With Sanders And GOP?

by By Maylon Rice | January 4, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

Fact: In January 2013, the Republican Party of Arkansas took control of majorities in both the State House and the State Senate.

Additional Fact: The divide between Democrats and Republicans in both Chambers is larger today than it has been since Reconstruction.

I am never one to wildly throw up my hands at changes brought about by the voters but many Arkansans out there, right now, certainly are.

I am not losing much sleep – at this point - in the newly forming Arkansas General Assembly. My excuse for not wailing about the sky falling was simply foreseeing this shift in our state's political power.

Did not everyone else see it?

Mr. and Mrs. Voter in Arkansas certainly did. They brought about this change across the 75 counties of the state.

My political friends on the Democratic "left" and the Republican "right" have labeled me as a "moderate."

And "moderates" will be, I am sad to say, in short supply this January down in Little Rock.

A "moderate" will say, "Let us choose the best among us as the Speaker of the House. A Speaker who will be fair, run the day-to-day activity of over 1,000 potential pieces of legislation and draft workable budgets and, oh, yeah, respect all the House members."

Sounds like a cut-and-dried process, huh?

Pretty "moderate" in fact.

A "moderate" will also broker for the best General Assembly members (on either side of the political aisle) to head up the committees bereft of political influences. The Speaker can then parse out committee memberships matching the members' interests and build strong committees based on members' work ethics, not political leanings.

Again, in a "perfect world" that system would work.

Perhaps the best trend in these times where the balance of the two major parties is so one sided has been the Speaker of the House, has indeed served more than one term.

Also, the voting process for the President Pro Tempore of the state Senate has also fallen to a secret ballot, often along "moderate" lines – until this upcoming session.

For ages, Arkansans have witnessed the political division of committee chairmen doled out based on political party affiliation and not to those who were actually committed to doing the work in the drafting, examining and ultimately passing legislation good for Arkansas.

We all have seen committee members attempting to work on good, substantive legislation only to see powerful chairs thwart attempts to enact, or even suggest, changes to the status quo.

Hopefully, in 2023 with moderation, this can begin to change.

This shift in power, even within the ruling party, will make for some interesting delivery of statements made during the recent political season.

Arkansans and Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders certainly want to finish whittling off the rest of the sales tax on food.

But when it comes down to the Legislature, that is not a done deal.

Do we need less state services?

Some say "yes" with little regard for such programs as prisons, highways, child services.

Who is going to step forward with a plan? And, here is the kicker, make that plan work?

This time around, I am betting a voice of clarity will come from our new governor. A much clearer voice of direction and instruction than her predecessor.

Much is said about more lowering of the state income tax.

Northwest Arkansas, with now more House and Senate members than ever before, should be in the catbird's seat for directing legislation – not only benefiting the region – but the state.

Every citizen needs to get their own message to our local state Representatives and state Senators. Voters are interested in getting things done down in Little Rock. We need to start today and continue to move Arkansas forward.

Northwest Arkansas has a proven educated and informed electorate. We do not need to wait. Let's start today by being actively engaged in the future of Arkansas and the new formation of the 94th General Assembly.

Print Headline: Arkansas’ ‘New Day’ Dawning With Sanders And GOP?


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