Emma Pettit of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette wrote today about developments on the lawsuit over the improperly approved
Hester passed a law to prevent
Hester, who says he no longer has
The lawsuit initially named the Assessment Coordination Division as a defendant, but the director claimed sovereign immunity. The division was dropped and the plaintiffs worked out a consent agreement with the Pulaski County assessor, no doubt happy to see a rational and equal valuation method put in place for billboard property. The judge in the case had signed the order declaring the act unconstitutional when she discovered the attorney general had asked to be heard on the constitutionality question. So Judge Mary McGowan put the judgment aside and will hear further arguments from the state.
The state indicates it will challenge the standing of the plaintiffs to sue. They are residents in the Little Rock School District and argue taxes that support the schools are reduced by this unconstitutional law.
So the question: Can the legislature — by
The legislature would like that, of course, and typically operates in that fashion. It is moving on many fronts in that direction, such as with the amendment to limit awards and attorney fees in damage lawsuits. That amendment also strips the court of rule-making power, giving it to the legislature.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s decision to defend the indefensible is no surprise. She’s been dodging the obvious question of illegal passage of this law since 2015.
I look forward to the legal opinion on the argument by Sylvester Smith, billboard lobbyist/lawyer, that he has a right to intervene in this lawsuit because his clients’ taxes would go up. Just remember: Those whose schools will be harmed do NOT have standing, the state in the person of the attorney general believes. The billboard is almost as mighty in Arkansas as the gun and burning coal.