Democrats already showing they are ready to get to work.
Our lawmakers started out the 92nd General Assembly by putting forward a positive vision for the session. Their agenda includes quality pre-K, supporting rural roads, and tax relief focused on the middle class – not just the wealthy.
Democrats in the Arkansas Legislature responded to Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s State of the State address Tuesday by detailing their priorities for the session that is just getting underway. In particular, they voiced concerns about the impact the governor’s proposed tax cut plan would have on the state budget.
Two freshmen representatives, Megan Godfrey of Springdale and Jay Richardson of Fort Smith, read a prepared statement saying that allocating money for highways and expanding pre-kindergarten education would benefit more Arkansans than expanding tax cuts .
“We worry that the proposed tax breaks for high-income earners will reduce our revenues even further, and we know that will come at the expense of our roads,” Godfrey said. “We agree with the governor that Arkansans need tax relief and that’s why we know we can work with our Republican colleagues on a tax package that centers around middle class and working families.” Read more and listen to KUAR’s coverage on their website >>>
Arkansas Democratic legislators held a press conference after Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s inaugural address on Tuesday (Jan. 15) to draw differences in their priorities over the governor’s stated goals.
Two new lawmakers, State Rep. Megan Godfrey, D-Springdale, and State Rep. Jay Richardson, D-Fort Smith, offered formal comments in a dual presentation in the newly renovated Old Supreme Courtroom at the state Capitol.
After two lower income tax break packages in previous sessions, Hutchinson is promoting a tax cut plan that would reduce the top tax bracket in Arkansas to 5.9%. He has also called for teacher pay raises, a state government reorganization plan, and an undefined as-yet highway program. Read more of Roby Brock’s coverage at Talk Business’ website >>>
The membership of the 92nd Arkansas Legislature General Assembly is now more diverse with the highest number of women serving as lawmakers. Two of the new faces from Northwest Arkansas are now getting to work after recently taking the oath of office as legislators in the Arkansas House of Representatives.
A group of women gathered on the steps of the Capitol in Little Rock Monday morning. They were from different parties, backgrounds and come from all corners of the state of Arkansas. They joined together to capture a historic moment with a group picture.
The group was comprised of members of the Arkansas House of Representatives, the Senate and the Executive branch. Many are returning faces but some, like District 84 Representative Denise Garner of Fayetteville and District 89 Representative Megan Godfrey of Springdale — both Democrats — are new members of this exclusive group. Read more of KNWA coverage >>>
Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday pitched to lawmakers what he called his “growth agenda” for lowering income taxes, reorganizing state government, developing a highway funding plan and raising starting teacher salaries by repeatedly saying, “It can be done.”
House Democratic leader Charles Blake of Little Rock said House Democrats want to enact legislation to create a state earned-income tax credit that is similar to a proposal put forward in 2017 by then-Rep. Warwick Sabin, D-Little Rock. Sabin’s proposal would have led to an estimated $40 million reduction to state revenue. Earned-income tax credits are typically targeted toward low-income workers. Read more coverage of yesterday’s swearing at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s website >>>
Rep. Jamie Scott (D-North Little Rock) became the youngest African-American woman in the Arkansas Legislature yesterday. Scott, the executive director for Pulaski County Youth Services, defeated opponent Isaac Henry in the District 37 Democratic primary and went on to run unopposed in the general election. Recently, she took time to answer my questions about what problem she believes needs fixing in Arkansas, the pressures of being a woman elected in 2018 and the music she is listening to as she prepares for her first week of the 2019 legislative session.
Scott sees safety as the biggest problem facing Arkansas. She wants a bipartisan effort to strengthen state laws designed to keep women safe.
“Women, especially in Arkansas are at a greater risk of experiencing violence. We need stronger laws to protect women from domestic abuse and sexual assault. We are going to start tackling these issues in a more serious way, with the help of Republican women. This is an issue that we are ready to move forward on as a state. It’s past time.” Read more of Autumn Tolbert’s interview with Rep. Scott here >>>
The Legislative Black Caucus on Monday elected Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, as chairman and Rep. Fred Love, D-Little Rock, as vice chairman.
Elliott replaces Rep. Vivian Flowers, D-Pine Bluff, as chairman, while Love replaces Rep. Charles Blake, D-Little Rock, as vice chairman. Blake is now serving as the House minority leader, as in minority party in the Legislature.
The caucus, which has 16 members, also elected Flowers as secretary; Rep. Monte Hodges, D-Bytheville, as treasurer; Sen. Linda Chesterfield, D-Little Rock, as chaplain; and Rep. Don Glover, D- Dermott, as parliamentarian. Read more coverage here >>>
Thirty-two females took the oath of office as part of the 92nd General Assembly Monday in Little Rock, with many of the new faces reflecting a trend in national politics. It was on display two weeks ago in the energized atmosphere on Capitol Hill.
A record number of women won seats in Congress, and that energy could also be felt in the Arkansas state capitol. While some of those voices are coming from the Left, they appear ready to make deals while making their voices heard.
“It’s been so amazing,” said Nicole Clowney (D- Fayetteville). “When I started this process my daughter who was 6 at the time thought that girls weren’t even allowed to do this job.” Read more of Rolly Hoyt’s coverage at THV11’s website >>>
Later today, the five freshmen Democratic women will take their seats in the Arkansas House of Representatives as the 92nd General Assembly gets underway. I reached out to new Democratic Reps. Megan Godfrey (Springdale), Nicole Clowney (Fayetteville), Jamie Scott (North Little Rock), Denise Garner (Fayetteville) and Tippi McCullough(Little Rock) to get their thoughts on the biggest problem facing Arkansas, how they plan to deal with the pressure of having so many women looking to them with high expectations and what they are listening to for inspiration or motivation as they prepare for their first week in the legislature.
Up first is Godfrey, a bilingual educator and mother of two who defeated GOP incumbent Jeff Williams by 29 votes in District 89. Godfrey, a Springdale resident, believes solving the biggest problems facing Arkansas requires looking beyond policy positions and doing a better job defining our common values of “compassion and opportunity” in order to work together to pursue those values. “By illuminating the humanity of the issues that are relevant to our families and neighbors, we can better establish what kind of Arkansas we want to create for the present and for the future.” Read more of Autumn Tolbert’s interview with Rep. Godfrey here >>>
With a couple of seats flipped and a couple lost, we’d allow that Democratic lawmakers in Arkansas should at least be happy they haven’t lost even more power in this reddest of states. After the last election, they have 24 seats in the House. But they still have goals to accomplish in the coming session, and finding common ground is one of them.
Rep.-elect Nicole Clowney (D-Fayetteville) understands well the challenges of the minority. A newly elected lawmaker, she told us she acknowledges the low level of political capital she brings into Little Rock.
“You have to use it wisely,” she said.
Her attitude is a healthy one, recognizing the difference between arguing against legislation and arguing against a legislator. Mrs. Clowney said she’s not interested in the latter. If only people in Washington would understand.
A prime example of Nicole Clowney’s healthy attitude? During legislator orientation in December, she approached several women in the GOP caucus and found a subject they could all agree on: domestic violence protections. Read more of this opinion piece here >>>