The line is open. Closing out:
* MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has rejected yet another effort to formulate a medical marijuana ballot intitiative on account of what he says are some ambiguous references in the text.
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* MORE INTIATIVE SUPPRESSION: SB 821, the Keith Ingram bill backed by Attorney General McDaniel to require registration of petition canvassers and otherwise present new hurdles to petition gathering, was approved in a House committee this morning. This is another Friday firm vehicle to benefit the likes of the Southland and Oaklawn casinos, which hate petitions for casino competition, and also to help gas companies who’d just as soon not see another petition effort to raise the severance tax. The frackers joined the gamblers in working for this bill today, opponents said. The bill, if passed, is likely to face a legal challenge for infringing on constitutional protections for petitioning. Legislators were urged to vote against the bill by Paul Jacob, who works for the activist group Citizens in Charge. He said the bill “remains a serious assault on the basic democratic rights of Arkansans. It is also an expensive court case waiting to happen.”
* MORE PARTISAN VOTE MEDDLING: A House committee today approved Sen. Bryan King’s bill to broaden Secretary of State Mark Martin’s ability to investigate election complaints, a power already vested with a bipartisan appointed state board of election commissioners. Would Martin investigate a complaint against himself? Good question by Susan Inman of the state board. No matter. The dam burst on bad legislation this morning after the Obamacare ratification vote. King won approval of more measures to change election oversight, including a change in appointments to the board of election commissioners that would have the immediate effect based on current elected officials to switch partisan control to the Republican Party.
* A REAL IMMIGRANT DEAL: A bipartisan U.S. Senate group has arrived at an immigration bill that provides a real path to citizenship for people in the country illegally. Can the Republicans who crafted this deal, including Marco Rubio, sell it to the rest of their party?
* THE RUSH TO ADJOURN: House Speaker Davy Carter said the legislature probably won’t finish Friday. It might take until Monday or Tuesday. But the cleanup is happening, cut loose by House approval of the Medicaid expansion and the millions that will infuse into the state budget. I just happened to look, for example, through the mid-afternoon agenda of the Joint Budget Committee. Austerity is over in some places. Joint Budget’s agenda today included Sen. Johnny Key’s amendment of the state official pay bill. It includes a 6 percent pay raise for judges, worth roughly $8,000 to $9,000 per year for judges, ranging from circuit judges to the chief justice of the Supreme Court.
* THE STRONG EXECUTIVE: The House completed action today on a proposed constitutional amendment to give the legislature absolute control over administrative rules of executive agencies, rather than simply review power. It apparently will be the only amendment sent to the ballot this year, with tort reform and ethics reform measures having fallen by the wayside.
* PAT SUMMERALL DIES: The retired broadcaster and former Razorback died today in Texas. He was 82.