At the behest of Sen. Mark Johnson (R-Little Rock), the special language subcommittee of Joint Budget this morning approved an insert into the appropriation for the state Board of Election Commissioners that would allow the state to withhold state turnback money from counties that didn’t pay election expenses.

It’s just a “contingency” for places where problems might arise, Johnson said, before routine approval.

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Understand that Johnson, a Pulaski County Republican, has been at the forefront of efforts to strip power from Democratic-controlled Pulaski County and find ways for the Republican-controlled Election Commission to take control of election workers in the county.

Understand if the Republican-controlled state Election Commission decided some “problem” or another existed in Pulaski County and ordered the hiring of additional people or other purchases to correct the “problem,” this would be a means to make the county pay for it, whether the judge or quorum court had approved such expenditures or not.

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Bears watching.

Special language is a place where all sorts of devilment or done, outside the normal legislative process. Once grafted into an appropriation bill that is approved by Joint Budget, it is usually routinely approved. Johnson ran into county judge opposition this week on a bill that attempted similar financial control of county election procedures.

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