Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Age of Reason at the Capital Today

On an icy day in Arkansas, our state legislators managed to continue their business with an air of enlightenment. For me, two moves stand out head and shoulders above the myriad of activity that took place.

In a moment of clarity, the Senate Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs failed to return Rep. Lindsay Smith’s HB1086, a bill which would create a day to honor Thomas Paine. Paine is favorite founding father of those who try to deny our country’s Christian heritage. Although creating a state day to honor him would be largely meaningless, in my opinion, it is being pushed by those who want to highlight him because of his atheistic philosophy not in spite of them as they claim.

Of a much larger significance, Rep. Ed Garner filed HB1238, an alternate proposal to fund the state trauma system this afternoon. Garner’s proposal would fund the trauma system through increased fines on the violence crimes and serious traffic violations such as drunk driving. You know, illegal things that actually cause traumatic injuries

However, before the bill was even filed, Democrats began attacking the alternate proposal. House Speaker Robbie Wills, appearing on KATV’s “Daily Debrief” last week, called Garner’s bill “a distraction without any chance of passing.” Governor Beebe said on Monday that he is skeptical of actually being able to provide the revenue due to the inability to collect the fines. This point made by the governor has been the main criticism of Garner’s proposal.

In a telephone interview with Rep. Garner, I asked him about this and how his bill addresses this concern. Garner said that according to his data about 77% of the total fines are collected. The way his bill is structured, the local court would remit the fine based on collections not assessment but would remit the portion of the fine (usually $50) related to this subsection first. Since 77% of the total fines are collected then there is even a large insistence of partial collection of at least the first $50.

From the information I have seen, I am convinced that we do need a trauma system in Arkansas. However, I am much more inclined to support Garner’s proposed method of funded it. For one, it is only increases the size of our state government by about $27 million, the amount needed to fund the actual program rather than the over $200 million expansion from the cigarette tax. In addition, instead of singling out a small constituent (smokers) to tax, it ties the funding an actual trauma related cause and seeks to punish this behavior through stiffer penalties. To me this is just Common Sense.

1 comment:

Zine said...

Thomas Paine...Common Sense! You are just too funny.