Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, who Friday took advantage of the governor’s absence to go to D.C. and signed a bill that would have been law anyway on Monday, saying he felt legislators “deserved that respect to have the signature on it and for it to go into effect immediately,” [subscription required] said his move was not political, though he made sure to have his picture made with the sponsors. How could it have been anything else?
Darr was raring to sign Rep. Andy Mayberry’s bill to prohibit abortion after 20 weeks (when many fetal anomalies are detected) as well — there’s nothing like those few days of power when the governor is abroad, actually doing work for good of Arkansas — but his hand was stayed by Mayberry himself. Mayberry thought it was more important for the governor — the real one — to weigh in on the bill than for Darr to feed his ego.
Gov. Beebe has more than the law on his side, though that’s all he needs — the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that abortion before viability is legal; both Arkansas bills would deny women the right to end unwanted pregnancies before viability as well as wanted, but doomed, pregnancies. The public also agrees with him, if the emails and letters to his office during the legislative session are any indication. Gov. Beebe’s spokesman, Matt DeCample, said in e-mail to the Times the “heaviest traffic” is asking the governor to veto Mayberry’s bill and Sen. Jason Rapert’s bill to prohibit abortion after 12 weeks gestation.
DeCample also said support for the bill Darr signed, to make secret the names of concealed weapons holders, ran high. Beebe did not sign it because he believes it weakens the state’s excellent Freedom of Information law, but would let it become law because of support for it. Not unconstitutional, either.
New mail to the governor: Don’t leave Arkansas until the legislature has gone home.