By Brett Hooton
Last week Representative Jonathan Dismang (R-Beebe) had a bill, HB 1178, before the Agriculture, Forestry, and Economic Development Committee, which would protect the property rights of Arkansans. I've previously written about this bill. Unfortunately the majority of the members of this committee do not feel the same about your property rights as Representative Dismang. Instead they seem to worry more about their $2,000 campaign check from Chesapeake. Representatives King, Rice, Dale, Betts, Nickels, and Sample voted for the bill.
So why did this bill which protects your rights fail? Representatives Everette, Reep, Davenport , Wills, Lowery, Reynolds, Cash, House, and Patterson. Three Representatives were not in attendance.
The vast majority of Democrats on this committee voted against this bill. Was this party politics or simply paying back the gas companies for their campaign contributions? If there were another reason to vote for gas companies and against Arkansans I'd love to hear it.
One of the more surprising votes was Speaker Wills' no vote. He is from the Fayetteville Shale region. Does he really think voting against the property rights of Arkansans is what people in his district need or want? Maybe it is simply that Dismang didn't submit to the will of the Speaker and vote for the cigarette tax. I wonder if Dismang had voted for the cigarette tax if it would have earned him the vote of Rep. Wills and Reep (who sponsored the tax increase). Rep. Reynolds also lives in the Fayetteville shale reason. I wonder what the Representative's constituents think about that.
I have two more interesting observations. As you might expect Chesapeake had their lobbyist on hand for the committee meeting. What is surprising is that they would frequently mouth questions to Representative Lowery (as noticed by several observers) who would then ask their questions. I would have preferred it if as a representative of the people in District 6 you would ask questions for them and not the simply regurgitate Chesapeake 's talking points. The last point is that it has been rumored that Representative Davenport is considering running for Land Commissioner. I wonder if his campaign slogan will have anything to do property rights.