Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Two Common Sense Bills

by Brett Hooton

HB1380 – Would make prosecuting attorney nonpartisan.

Have you ever wondered why certain elected positions are partisan? What does it matter if the prosecuting attorney is a Republican or a Democrat? How can a prosecutor be a Democrat prosecutor or a Republican prosecutor? Representative Andrea Lea (R-Russellville) has introduced a bill that might make more sense than any other bill I've seen so far this session. HB1380 stipulates that the position of Prosecuting Attorney is nonpartisan.

A prosecuting attorney does not create policy but simply enforces the provisions of the law. It seems irresponsible to me to have a position, with the authority and responsibility of the prosecuting attorney, to be partisan. Our prosecuting attorneys should worry about enforcing the law and not worrying about if they're being republican or democrat enough to win their next primary election. They should focus on doing what is in the best interest of the community as a whole, not just a particular ideological sect.

To be fair, I think our prosecuting attorneys are doing a stand-up job and are usually unbiased. But why do we need to add the additional pressure and potential for conflict of interest when it isn't necessary. This was the same rationale used when the legislature made the judicial positions nonpartisan. The only argument against this bill is for those who are resistant to any kind of change. I can't think of one good reason for the position to be partisan. If we don't want our judges to be partisan why would we want other court officers to be? I hope that the legislature doesn’t turn this into a partisan issue. It would be sad to see petty bickering over making one of the more important jobs in our society nonpartisan.

Bill by Representative Woods

I don’t know if this bill has been filed yet. I’ll provide the bill number when I get it. Representative Jon Woods (R-Springdale) is filing a bill which would make overtime pay and bonuses (up to a limit) exempt from state income tax. This just makes sense to me. In a recession we should be encouraging people to work. The more people work, the more money they make, and the more money they spend. People who are working overtime are people who usually need the money. Let’s help these tax payers out and reward their hard work, not tax it. Jon Woods describes the bill below while also listing some upcoming priorities for the legislature.

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