Legislators vs. Halter on Lottery

Lt. Gov. Bill Halter
Lt. Gov. Bill Halter

At the Hope Star, editor Ken McLemore has written two in a series of stories (here and here) examining the state lottery proposal being pushed by Lt. Gov. Bill Halter for a November ballot initiative. McLemore has offered a judicious and balanced look at some of the thorny issues surrounding the lottery proposal, and one looks forward to the next installment. (Special thanks to Rep. Steve Harrelson’s “Under the Dome” blog for pointing up this series).

In the most recent installment, McLemore chats with Democratic Rep. David “Bubba” Powers of Hope, who is, shall we say, rather unguarded in offering his views about Halter.

Rep. David Bubba Powers
Rep. David "Bubba" Powers

Powers notes that he doesn’t have moral objections to the lottery, but he doesn’t think he can support Halter’s amendment. He lays out some reasonable and pertinent policy questions, but he goes a bit further in indicating that this time, it’s at least a little bit personal. For you busy readers who only skim long quotes, I’ve boldfaced the interesting parts:

“Voting a constitutional amendment out of the legislature, I’m always for, if that is for the people to make a decision on, I have no problem voting to let the public vote on it, no matter what it might be,” Powers said.

He said several possible legislative initiative proposals (for the lottery) circulated during the 2007 legislative session.

“There were quite a few,” Powers said. “Halter’s was kind of blown out of the water early on; that was one that he was pushing real early. Halter got crossways with virtually everybody in the legislature over some stuff, and any traction that thing had just had no chance.”

Halter will have to mend fences legislatively in a big way for him to be able to carry any win at the polls into favorable enabling legislation, Powers said.

Powers also notes a one-on-one meeting with Halter in which the Lt. Governor pushed for an “immediate response” on whether Powers would support him on the lottery. Powers was uncomfortable giving said immediate response, and told him so.

The whole thing is worth reading, as Powers’ trepidation about the lottery (he’s not really for it but not entirely against it) mirrors the feelings that many Arkansans have about this new policy route.

But more interestingly, Capitol Kremlinologists in Little Rock and beyond will enjoy reading McLemore’s piece and pondering the question: What does everybody have against Bill Halter?

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