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Arkansas Week July 11, 2014

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(Minimum Wage) Petition signatures are now being verified by the state. Will there be enough to get on the ballet? (Pryor) The incumbent senator removes footage from a campaign ad after being accused of politicizing a tragedy. (Cotton) His Republican opponent meanwhile is facing criticizism privately from those within his own party. (Session) And moving forward with the issues that brought lawmakers together last week.

TRANSCRIPT

WELCOME TO "ARKANSAS WEEK". STEVE BARNES IS PROBABLY SITTING ON A BEACH RIGHT NOW ENJOYING SOME VACATION TIME SO I AM SITTING IN THIS WEEK. I AM MICHAEL HIBBLEN NEWS DIRECTOR OF KUAR RADIO IN LITTLE ROCK. MONDAY WAS THE DEADLINE FOR GROUPS TO PLACE ITEMS ON THE BALLOT TO TURN IN SIGNATURES. BACKERS FOR THE PROPOSAL TO RAISE THE STATE MINIMUM WAGE AND FOR THE TAX ON ALCOHOL BELIEVE THEY HAVE ENOUGH PEOPLE FOR THE PETITIONS AND THAT'S WHERE WE WILL START. JOINING ME IS STEVE COPLEY. HE'S THE CHAIR OF GIVE ARKANSAS A RAISE NOW COALITION AND ALSO THE ARKANSAS INTERFAITH ALLIANCE. THANK YOU FOR JOINING ME.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

YOUR GROUP IS TRYING TO RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE IN ARKANSAS BY $6.28 AN HOUR TO $8.50 AN HOUR BY 2017.

CORRECT.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

WELL, IT'S BEEN A NUMBER OF YEARS SINCE THE STATE MINIMUM WAGE HAS BEEN INCREASED AND FOLKS WORK HARD AND PLAY BY THE RULES AND JUST CAN'T MAKE ENDS MEET. IF YOU LOOK AT 7.25 -- 6.25 IS $13,000 A YEAR AND PAY 100 A WEEK FOR GROCERIES AND A LOW FIGURE AND THAT'S 52 RIGHT THERE AND FOR RENT THERE IS 36 MORE SO HOUSING AND FOOD AND YOU HAVE SPENT $8,800 OF THE $13,000 SO PEOPLE CAN'T MAKE ENDS MEET SO THAT'S WHY WE FEEL TO HAVE THE MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE.

HOW DID YOU COME TO LEAD THIS EFFORT?

WELL, AS A PERSON OF FAITH, AS A CHRISTIAN MINISTER IT WAS A MORAL FAITH ISSUE AND IN 2005-2006 I LEAD THE SAME COALITION WHEN WE WORKED ON THE MINIMUM WAGE SO IT WAS AGAIN JUST STEPPING INTO THE SAME ROLE I HAD PREVIOUSLY.

TOP DEMOCRATS IN THE STATE ARE BACKING THIS PROPOSAL. THERE'S ALSO BEEN TALK THAT THERE MAY BE A STRATEGY BEHIND THIS. THEY'RE SUPPORTING IT SUGGESTING THAT IT MIGHT BRING PEOPLE TO THE POLLS WHO WOULD LIKELY VOTE FOR DEMOCRAT CANDIDATES. TELL ME THE REACTION YOU HAVE HEARD FROM POLITICAL LEADERS?

WELL, WE CERTAINLY ARE NON PARTISAN. FOR US IT'S FOR ME IT'S A FAITH ISSUE AND FOR OTHER MEMBERS IT'S AN IMPORTANT ISSUE FOR FOLKS WORKING HARD TO GET ENOUGH MONEY TO MAKE THEIR ENDS MEET AND WE SAID MANY TIMES WE INVILE ALL CANDIDATES AND OFFICIALS REGARDLESS OF POLITICAL AFFILIATION TO ENDORSE AND WE CONTINUE TO OFFER THAT. SOME HAVE AND SOME HAVEN'T AND PERHAPS WHEN IT'S ON THE BALLOT THEY WILL JOIN.

REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON SUGGESTED THIS SHOULDN'T BE TAKEN UP BY THE VOTERS BUT BE CONSIDERED BY THE STATE LEGISLATURE.

WELL, THE STRUGGLE WE HAD AND ONE REASON WE LOOKED AT IT AFTER IN 2006 IT PASSED IN A SPECIAL SESSION AND WENT FROM $5.15 TO $6.25. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RAISED IT IN 2007 IN A TIERED APPROACH SO IN THE SUMMER OF 2008 THE FEDERAL MINIMUM WAGE WENT ABOVE THE STATE, SO IN THE 2009-2011 SESSIONS WE TRIED TO BRING THE STATE MINIMUM WAGE TO THE FEDERAL LEVEL AND COULDN'T GET IT PASSED SO THE REASON WE BRING IT NOW WE TRIED SEVERAL TIMES IN THE LEGISLATURE IT HASN'T BEEN SUCCESSFUL SO IT'S TIME TO BRING IT TO THE PEOPLE OF ARKANSAS.

THERE IS NO ORGANIZED OPPOSITION TO THIS AT THIS POINT BUT THERE IS THE SUGGESTION FROM SOME BUSINESS LEADERS THAT IT COULD NEGATIVELY IMPACT BUSINESSES IN ARKANSAS.

WE OFTEN HEARD THE ARGUMENT THAT IT COST JOBS. THAT'S THE FIRST ONE WE HEAR AND SINCE THE FEDERAL MINIMUM WAGE WAS PASSED IN 1938 AND THE STATE MINIMUM WAGE WAS PASSED IN THE 60'S NUMBERS OF STUDIES HAVE BEEN DONE AND IN REALITY THE JOB LOSS ARGUMENT JUST DOESN'T WORK. THAT JOBS AREN'T LOST. WHEN PEOPLE'S WAGES INCREASES THEIR PRODUCTIVITY INCREASES AND ABSENT TEISM DECREASES SO THE LOST OF JOBS DOESN'T OCCUR LIKE PREDICTED SO WE DON'T THINK IT WILL HAVE THAT NEGATIVE IMPACT ON BUSINESS OR PEOPLE THAT WORK.

YOUR GROUP TURNED IN 77,000 PETITION SIGNATURES TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE. 62,507 WILL BE NEED TO BE VALIDATED COMING FROM THE REGISTERED VOTERS QUALIFYING FOR THE BALLOT. HOW CONFIDENT ARE YOU THAT YOU HAVE ENOUGH? IT'S A HIGH THRESHOLD.

AT THIS POINT WE FEEL CONFIDENT WE HAVE THE SIGNATURES NECESSARY TO GET THIS ON THE BALLOT AND TO BRING THIS TO A VOTE TO HELP HARD WORK ARKANSANS.

IF THIS DOES MAKE IT TO THE BALLOT WHAT WILL YOU BE DOING BETWEEN NOW AND NOVEMBER TO CAMPAIGN FOR THIS.

WE WILL TRY TO GET OUR MESSAGE OUT TO OTHER ARKANSANS THAT THIS IS ON THE BALLOT, WHAT DOES IT DO. IT'S IMPORTANT TO INDIVIDUALS IN ARKANSAS, TO THEIR NEIGHBORS AND TO FAMILIES AND ONE WAY IS THROUGH GRASS-ROOTS WORK TRYING TO GET TO ORDINARY ARKANSANS LETTING THEM KNOW WHAT A BENEFIT THIS WILL BE.

THIS IS STEVE COPLEY GIVE ARKANSAS A RAISE NOW COALITION. THANKS FOR COMING BY.

THANK YOU.

AND WE WILL BE WITH OUR PANEL IN JUST A MOMENT.

AND THIS IS "ARKANSAS WEEK" ON AETN. JOINING ME NOW IS THE PANEL. MY COLLEAGUE JACOB KAUFFMAN POLITICAL REPORTER AT KUAR PUBLIC RADIO FOR CENTRAL ARKANSAS. HOYT PURVIS IS A JOURNALISM PROFESSOR AT UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS AND HAL BASS AT OUACHITA BAPTIST UNIVERSITY AND HAL WHAT'S YOUR TAKE ON THE POLITICAL TALK CONCERNING THE MINIMUM WAGE?

HISTORICALLY WE HAVE A FAIRLY HIGH STANDARD FOR BALLOT ACCESS FOR THESE INITIATIVES. 62,000 SOME ODD VOTERS MUST BE ENLISTED -- REGISTERED VOTERS MUST BE ENLISTED AND THAT TAKES FORMIDABLE ORGANIZATION TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN SO I WOULD SAY THE OPPONENT ARE OFF TO A GOOD START. THEY HAVE THE SIGNATURES AND OF COURSE THEY HAVE YET TO BE VERIFIED. SO FAR AS THE INTERVIEW INDICATED NO ORGANIZED OPPOSITION HAS DEVELOPED TO THIS AND THE FACT THAT WE HAVE A MINIMUM WAGE TO BEGIN WITH SUGGESTS THERE IS A FOUNDATIONAL AREA TO BUILD SO IF I WERE ASSESSING THE SITUATION I WOULD SAY THERE'S REASONABLE GROUND FOR OPIMISM FOR THE PROPONENTS.

HOYT, I GUESS IT'S DIFFICULT FOR A POLITICIAN TO COME OUT AGAINST THIS. ASA HUTCHINSON SHOULD IT SHOULD BE TAKEN UP BY THE LEGISLATURE. TOM COTTON SAID LAST WEEK AT A PRESS CONFERENCE HE WASN'T GOING TO QUALIFY ON IT BECAUSE IT HASN'T BEEN QUALIFIED IT.

YEAH, IT'S AN APPLE PIE ISSUE AND ELECTED FIGURES NOT SAYING OPPOSED OF IT IF NOT NECESSARILY SUPPORTIVE OF IT AND YEAH IT'S GOING TO BE AND MAYBE A PLUS FOR DEMOCRATS BECAUSE THERE IS MORE IDENTIFICATION I THINK WITH THIS PARTICULAR CAUSE WITH DEMOCRATS THAT MIGHT BRING MORE VOTERS OUT. I AM NOT CONVINCED IT'S GOING TO HAVE ANY KIND OF DECISIVE EFFECT AT ALL, BUT IT COULD POSSIBLY HELP THE DEMOCRATS SOMEWHAT. I THINK THE INTERESTING THING HERE AND I DON'T WANT TO STEAL HAL'S LINE BECAUSE HE'S THE ONE THAT POINTED IT OUT. THE SIGNATURURE COLLECTION PROCESS IS INTERESTING TO WATCH AND HE REFERRED TO THE PROFESSIONALIZATION OF THE SIGNATURE GATHERING AND IT APPEARS WE HAVE SUFFICIENT SIGNATURES NOT ONLY FOR THE MINIMUM WAGE BUT FOR THE STATE WIDE ALCOHOL SALES OPPOSED TO THE MEDICAL MARIJUANA AND THE SURPRISE TO ME LAST ELECTION CYCLE THE SURPRISE WAS THAT MEDICAL MARIJUANA MADE SUCH A STRONG SHOWING IT AS DID AND CAME CLOSE AND THIS TIME THEY WEREN'T ABLE TO GET ORGANIZED TO GET ON THE BALLOT.

BUT THEY SAY THEY WILL BE BACK IN 2016.

PROBABLY WILL.

AND THERE WERE TWO PROPOSALS THERE, MEDICAL MARIJUANA AND RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA.

COMMENTING ON THE PROFESSIONALIZATION OF THESE CANVASSING EFFORT THE MEDICAL MARIJUANA GROUP WOULD SAY THEY'RE ENTIRELY A VOLUNTEER ORGANIZATION, SO YOU CAN SEE ANECDOTALLY HOW THAT AFFECTED THEM AND THEIR ABILITY TO GATHER SIGNATURES AND THERE ARE A FEW POLITICIANS IN ARKANSAS AND MAYBE NOT EXPLICIT OPPOSITION TO THE MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE BUT FRENCH HILL A CANDIDATE TOLD ME HE IS OPPOSED TO THE IDEA OF A MINIMUM WAGE BECAUSE OF ECONOMIC PRINCIPLE AND I THINK THERE IS ARE YOU LUKTANT WITH ARKANSAS AND THE 850 BEING THROWING AROUND AND YOU HEAR THE $10 10 A HOUR AND I THINK THAT'S ACKNOWLEDGMENT THAT THE THRESHOLD IN ARKANSAS IS LOWER.

IT'S ALSO THOUGHT THAT THE DIFFERENT TACTIC HERE FOR THE MINIMUM WAGE, THE CANVASSERS WERE GOING DOOR TO DOOR AND NOT PROFESSIONAL PEOPLE. YOU'RE LIKELY TO GET A HIGHER PERCENTAGE OF VERIFIABLE REGISTERED VOTERS.

WE WILL FIND THAT OUT WHEN THE VARIOUS SIGNATURES GET VERIFIED, BUT GOING ALONG WITH WHAT JACOB SAID I DO THINK THAT PART OF THE PROFESSIONALIZATION WE HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT HERE IS ALSO A NATIONALIZATION OF THE POLICY PROCESS WHEREBY ISSUES THAT ARISE IN A PARTICULAR STATE -- IN THIS CASE THE MINIMUM WAGE IN ARKANSAS, DON'T DO SO IN ISOLATION. THEY'RE PART OF A BROADER NATIONAL TRENDS AND MOMENTUM BILLEDS AND FADES AND NOT JUST WHAT IS GOING ON IN OUR STATE BUT THE NATIONAL FRONT AS WELL.

I AGREE VERY MUCH HAL. I THINK THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT IS HAPPENING.

AND RIGHT NOW THE SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE IS WORKING TO VERIFY THE SIGNATURES ON THE ALCOHOL PROPOSAL WHICH WOULD BASICALLY DO AWAY WITH THE WET DRY DESIGNATION THAT EXISTS IN ARKANSAS. THEY HAVE SAID THAT ONE HAS COLLECTED ENOUGH SIGNATURES, AT LEAST THEY HAVE COUNTED NOW. THEY'RE WORKING TO VERIFY THOSE AND IF THEY COME UP SHORT THEY HAVE ADDITIONAL 30 DAYS AND IF THE MINIMUM WAGE PROPOSAL GETS THE NUMBER OF SIGNATURES THEY TOO WILL HAVE ADDITIONAL DAYS IF ADDITIONAL VERIFIABLE SIGNATURES ARE NEEDED BUT FINALLY HAL ON THE ISSUE DO YOU THINK THE STATE IS READY FOR STATE WIDE ALCOHOL AND TO DO AWAY WITH THE WET DRY COUNTY AND YOU'RE FROM A COUNTY --

WENT WET.

A FEW YEARS AGO.

I THINK THE MOMENTUM HAS BUILT IN YEARS FOR AVAILABILITY FOR ACCESS TO ALCOHOL BEVERAGES -- SALE OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES BUT I THINK WE ARE SEEING THE TRADITIONAL DIVIDE BETWEEN THE URBAN AND THE RURAL AREAS APPEARING AS A STRATEGIC ISSUE HERE AND THEY'RE GOING FOR A STATE WIDE INITIATIVE IN PART TO AVOID HAVING TO GO COUNTY BY COUNTY AND LET THE POPULOUS URBAN COUNTIES CARRY THE WASTE THE VOTES IN NOVEMBER.

I AGREE WITH THAT, BUT AT THE SAME TIME YOU'VE GOT SEVERAL LARGE COUNTIES -- I MEAN POPULATIONS CRAIGHEAD AND FAULKNER COUNTY TO BE THE OBVIOUS EXAMPLES AND CRAIGHEAD HAS BEEN DRY FOR 70 YEARS. THERE HAVE BEEN SEVERAL ATTEMPTS ALONG THE WAY TO GO WET, BUT IT HASN'T HAPPENED YET.

BUT AT THE SAME TIME NOW DAYS YOU HAVE RESTAURANTS THAT ARE --

I MEAN --

[INAUDIBLE]

WE KNOW IT'S A BIT OF A CHARADE IN TERMS OF CLUBS AND RESTAURANTS, YES YES.

BUT THAT IS DRASTICALLY DIFFERENT FROM MY TIME AND TWO CLUBS AND THE ONLY PLACE TO BUY ALCOHOL. ONTO THE SENATE RACE. THIS WEEK SENATOR PRYOR'S CAMPAIGN AGREED TO REMOVE FOOTAGE FROM AN AD AFTER RECEIVING A COMPLAINT FROM AN RV LOT IN MAYFLOWER. THE CAT PAGE SHOT FOOTAGE THERE AND WASN'T TOLD IT WAS FOR POLITICAL PURPOSES AND CONGRESSMAN COTTON'S CAMPAIGN MADE QUITE A BIT OF THAT. HAL, WHAT IS YOUR TAKE?

A COUPLE OF THINGS. ONE, I THINK WE NEED TO STEP BACK A BIT AND CONSIDER WHAT THE EFFECTS OF CAMPAIGN ADS ARE TO ELECTORAL OUTCOMES AND WHAT WE FIND OUT FOR THE MOST PART THESE CAMPAIGNING EFFORTS,ADS INCLUDED, EVEN CONTROVERSIALADS, TEND TO BE ABOUT ENFORCEMENT ABOUT DISPOSITION OR CONVERSION AND THEREFORE THOSE FOR PRYOR ARE NOT GOING TO ABANDON HIM BECAUSE OF THIS INCIDENT SO IN ONE SENSE YOUR CAMPAIGN EFFORTS APPROACH TO THE CHOIR AND TRY TO MOBILIZE EXISTING SUPPORTERS. ON THE OTHER HAND WHAT THEY ALSO TRY TO DO IS MAYBE ALIENATE SOME OF THE VOTERS AND MAKE THEM FRUSTRATED WITH THE PROCESS AND DEPRESS TURNOUT. YOU WANT TO GAIN THE TURNOUT IN YOUR CAMPAIGN. I THINK THIS IS A CLASSIC EXAMPLE OF THIS PHENOMENON.

I THINK YOU'RE RIGHT HAL, AND I WOULD SAY WITH REGARD TO THIS PARTICULAR COMMERCIAL WITH THE SCENE WHERE THE TORNADO HIT MAY FLOW TO BORROW FROM THE WORLD CUP I DON'T THINK IT ROSE TO THE LEVEL OF A YELLOW CARD. IT WAS ONE OF THOSE THINGS -- AGAIN IF YOU STEP BACK AND LOOK AT THE TOTALITY OF THE TVADS THAT WE WILL SEE THAT'S A BLIP ON THE RADAR PING PONG GAME AND EACH IS TRYING TO CONTROL THE COVERAGE AND WE HAD MR. COTTON'S REMARKS THAT APPLIED TO PRYOR'S FAITH AND THAT STARTED I THINK GAVE PRYOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO RESPOND VERY FORCEFULLY TO THAT, SO THIS GOES BACK AND FORTH AND I MEAN YOU COULD TRY TO KEEP SCORE AS TO WHO IS GOING TO HAVE THE ADVANTAGE ONE DAY AND MAY BE AT AS DISADVANTAGE THE NEXT DAY.

SEEMS LIKE THIS IS A REALLY TANGIBLE EFFORT FOR PEOPLE, THE IDEA OF DISASTER AID. BEFORE PRYORS OF ATTACKING ISSUES ON WOMEN AND THEY'RE ABSTRACT BUT A TORNADO HITTING THE STATE PEOPLE CAN UNDERSTAND AND RECURRING IN THE NEWS AND SEEMS TO PUT COTTON ON DEFENSE UNTIL THIS WEEK.

YEAH, HE'S HAD TO DEFEND HIS PREVIOUS VOTES --

YEAH, IT GAVE HIM A CHANCE TO REBOUND A LITTLE BIT BECAUSE HE'S TAKEN A LOT OF CRITICISM BECAUSE OF HIS VOTES SUPPORT FOR DISASTER RELIEF.

PRYOR SEEMS TO HAVE BANKED HARD ON THIS ISSUE THAT GET VOTERS ATTENTION AND TO SAY ONE OF THE GUYS IN THE COMMERCIAL SAY "YOU MISLEAD ME WHEN YOU FIRMED BY DESTROYED PROPERTY" THAT'S GOT TO BE A BAD MOMENT.

IT'S AWKWARD BUT IT'S NOT A GAME CHANGER, BUT THE REAL THING IS HOW INITIALLY IT'S CHANGING ON THIS RACE. IF YOU THINK BACK TO THE START OF THE YEAR THE NATIONAL CONVERSATION APPEARED TO BE LOOKING AT THIS CONTEST AS A REPLY OF 2010 AND R PRYOR IN THE BLANK LINCOLN ROLE AND TURNING REPUBLICAN HERE AND ALSO COTTON APPEARED TO BE A ATTRACTIVE CANDIDATE WITH THE STRONG CONSERVATIVE BELIEFS AND CONNECTIONS AND HIS COMPELLING BIOGRAPHY. THIS FAR INTO THE CAMPAIGN I THINK WE'RE SEEING REVISIONISM AT THE NATIONAL LEF AND THERE WAS A STORY THIS WEEK AND IT STRIKES ME --

WITH THE HEAD LINE "WHAT'S WRONG WITH TOM COTTON?"

AND THAT MISSING ONE OF PART OF THE STORY AND PRYOR IS MUCH EFFECTIVE THAN BLANCH LINCOLN AND SPEAKS TO THE BRAND.

AND YEAH IT HAS SUCCEEDED TO A LARGE EXTEND DEFINING COTTON AS SOMEONE OUTSIDE THE MAINSTREAM AND I DON'T THINK COTTON HAS BEFORE ABLE TO OVERCOME THAT TO ANY REAL DEGREE BUT HAL IS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT THE NATIONAL TAKE ON THIS IS NOW GETTING SOME REVISION, AND WHAT WE'RE BEING REMINDED OF OF COURSE IS THAT WHILE COTTON MAY HAVE A GREAT RESUME IT LOOKS GOOD ON PAPER, HAS MONEY TO SPEND ON TVADS, THERE ARE OTHER FACTORS AND IN ARKANSAS AT LEAST THERE IS IMPORTANCE OF THE RETAIL ASPECT OF POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS AND THAT'S ONE OF THE AREAS WHERE PRYOR SEEMS TO BE HAVE THE ADVANTAGE.

I THINK TO DATE THE CAMPAIGN COTTON HAS STRUGGLED ON TWO LEVELS. THERE IS THE SUBSTANTIVE LEVEL WHERE THE CLEAR IDEOLOGICAL COMMITMENTS AND PRINCIPLES ARE PORTRAYED EFFECTIVELY BY THE PRYOR CAMPAIGN AS TOO MUCH FOR THE ARKANSAS ELECTORATE, THEIR CONSERVATISM NOTWITHSTANDING AND THE NEXT IS THE STYLISTIC ISSUE AND AN ELECTORATE PRIORITIZED PERSONAL CONNECTION, PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP. DOES COTTON HAVE THIS PERSONALISTIC APPEAL THAT WILL CARRY HIM FORWARD IN A STATE WIDE CAMPAIGN?

AND THEY BROUGHT UP REPEATEDLY HE SKIPPED THE PINK TOMATO FESTIVAL. HE GOES BACK TO THE OLD STYLE OF POLITICS SHAKING HANDS AND KISSING BABIES. IS THAT WHAT IS LACKING HERE? BECAUSE I THINK COTTON'S CAMPAIGN HAS TAKEN THE APPROACH WE CAN DO THIS MORE AT A DISTANCE FROM ADVERTISING.

I THINK WE'RE AT A TIPPING POINT PERHAPS. WE KNOW HOW ARKANSAS POLITICS HAS WORKED IN THE PAST. WE DON'T KNOW GOING FORWARD. MAYBE COTTON IS MAKING THE SMART CALL FOR THE CURRENT ENVIRONMENT FOCUSING ON THE FUNDAMENTALS. THAT IS AN ELECTORATE THAT DOESN'T LIKE BARACK OBAMA AND ANYONE CONNECTED WITH BARACK OBAMA IS WANT CONCERNED AS MUCH ABOUT TOMATO JUICE AS WE'VE IMAGINED AS IN THE PAST.

FOUR MONTHS TO GO BEFORE ELECTION DAY. POLLS HAVE BEEN TIGHT RECENTLY. SEVERAL CONSERVATIVE LEANING POLLS FROM CONSERVATIVE ORGANIZATIONS HAVE SHOWN HIM WITH A LEAD, MORE JUNIORISTIC POLLS DONE BY COLLEGES AND ORGANIZATIONS ARE IN THE MIDDLE. THE RACE IS PRETTY TIGHT. MOST EXPECTED AT THIS POINT THAT COTTON WOULD BE WAY UP.

I THINK THE ONLY THING YOU CAN CONCLUDE FROM POLLS AND OBSERVATIONS IS NOT SURPRISINGLY IT'S A CLOSE RACE. THAT'S WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO AND THESE POLLS -- THERE ARE SO MANY NOW AND SOME OF THEM CLEARLY HAVE SORT OF IDEOLOGICAL OR PARTISAN IDENTIFICATION WHICH YOU KNOW QUESTIONS EXACTLY HOW VIABLE THEY ARE.

THEY'RE USING THEMSELVES TO CREATE A NEW NARRATIVE.

RIGHT, EXACTLY. SINCE WE DID NOT HAVE "ARKANSAS WEEK" LAST WEEK BECAUSE OF JULY 4TH PROGRAMMING JACOB WE SHOULD HIT ON THE SPECIAL SESSION OF THE STATE LEGISLATURE, THREE DAY SESSION, REALLY BRIEF AND SEEMED MAINLY LAWMAKERS DID A TENTATIVE FIX AND WILL TAKE CARE OF SOME OF THESE ISSUES FURTHER DOWN THE ROAD BUT WE HAD PRISONS, TEACHER HEALTH INSURANCE PREMIUMS AND THE LOTTERY. YOU COVERED THE SESSION WHAT WAS IT LIKE?

A LOT OF THE TALK WAS HOW IT WAS AT THE OLD STATE HOUSE AND INTERESTING AND SUBSTANTIVE THINGS IN THE BUILDING. THE TEACHER REFORMS WERE THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL. THREE MAJOR COMPONENTS TO IT AND ONE INVOLVES KICKING 4,000 OFF OF THE PLAN AND EVEN BY THE IDEA BY CONSERVATIVE LEGISLATORS THEY WOULD FIND SUBSIDIZED INSURANCE THROUGH THE PRIVATE OPTION OR THE OBAMACARE OR ACA AND OTHER ONES IS TAKE 4.5 MILLION DOLLARS FROM THE DISTRICTS AND SHIFT THAT BACK INTO THE INSURANCE PROGRAM SO SCHOOL DISTRICTS MAYBE LOSE A LITTLE DISCRETIONARY SPENDING AND LITTLE ROCK IS ABOUT A HALF MILLION DOLLARS SO THOSE ARE SOME OF THE MAJOR REFORMS OF THE PUBLIC EMPLOYEE INSURANCE AND OVERALL SUPPORTED BUT LEGISLATORS SHOWED THE CONSENSUS IT KICKS THE CAN DOWN THE ROAD A LITTLE BIT AND AS A RESULT TEACHERS WILL BE PAYING HIGHER PREMIUMS BUT NOT AS HIGH AS THE 35% PROJECTED.

YEAH AND ONE OF THE KEY ITEMS LIKELY TO BE TAKEN UP BY THE NEXT LEGISLATURE WAS THE LOTTERY. THERE WAS A PROPOSAL TO EXPAND INTO MONITOR GAMES WHERE YOU SEE A DRAWING EVERY SIX MINUTES AND THE THOUGHT THAT WOULD DRAW IN MORE PEOPLE THAN JUST DO THE REGULAR LOTTERY DRAWINGS, AND LAWMAKERS JUST PUT A MORATORIUM ON THAT AND SAID THE LOTTERY COULDN'T EXPAND UNTIL NEXT MARCH.

RIGHT. THE ARGUMENT BEFORE THE SPECIAL SESSION HAPPENED THEY BELIEVE BY THE ORIGINAL ACT PASSED BY THE VOTERS AND DO THE MONITOR GAMES AND IT WILL DRIVE UP SALES. THAT'S THE GOAL OF THE LOTTERY TO PRODUCE GREATER SCHOLARSHIP AMOUNTS AND EVERY YEAR THEY HAVE DECLINING REVENUE AND DECLINING SCHOLARSHIP AMOUNTS AND THEY THOUGHT THEY COULD BREAK INTO IT AND OTHER STATES HAVE DONE AND THE LEGISLATURE SAID AND THE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE SAID WE DON'T APPROVE AND THE GAMES ARE TOO INTERACTIVE AND ADDICTIVE TO PLAY. THE ARGUMENT IN THE MEDIA -- NOT NECESSARILY THE LEGISLATURE WHO PASSED THIS AND FEW VOTES AGAINST IT IS THAT THERE IS HYPOCRISY WITH VOTERS FROM THE LAST SESSION AND VOTING ON HORSE RACING FROM ANYWHERE IN THE STATE FROM THE TABLET, PHONE, COMPUTER AND THEY'RE CONCERNED ABOUT THIS TYPE OF GAMBLING SO THERE IS CONCERN THAT REPRESENTATIVES THAT HAVE CLOSE ASSOCIATIONS WITH OAKLAWN AND SOUTH LAND MAYBE SHOULD LOOK AT THIS ISSUE DIFFERENTLY.

HOYT IS THIS AN EXPANSION BEYOND WHAT IS EXPECTED WITH THE EXPANSION OF THE LOTTERY.

I THINK IT'S INCREMENTAL BUT YOU CAN SEE IT'S COMING IF YOU WERE WATCHING THE LOTTERY IN THE FIRST PLACE. I THINK THE BROADER TAKE AWAY FROM THE SPECIAL SESSION IT INCLUDES PRISON FIX AS WELL AS THE ISSUES THAT WE HAVE TALKED ABOUT HERE. SPECIAL SESSIONS ARE SIMPLY NOT STRUCTURED TO DEAL WITH THESE PROBLEMS. THEY'RE MEANT WITH A MANDATED EFFECT. THE OTHER TAKE AWAY THE TERM LIMITS -- WHATEVER THE PERCEIVED BENEFITS HAVE LIMITED THE LEGISLATURE'S COLLECTIVE CAPACITY THROUGH THE GOVERNING PROCESS. THESE ARE TOUGH QUESTIONS BEING DEALT WITH AND IT'S TOUGH FOR THE LEGISLATURE AS AN INSTITUTION TO STEP UP TO THE PLATE BEGIN OF THE LOSS OF EXPERTISE, UNDERSTANDING THAT YOU DEVELOP OVER THE EXTENDED LEGISLATIVE CAREER.

DEFINITELY. WITH THAT WE'RE OUT OF TIME. THANKS A LOT FOR TUNING IN AND WE WILL SEE YOU NEXT TIME.

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