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Arkansas comes last

I've written before about a plaque that was on David Pryor's desk during his years as governor and U.S. senator. It stated that "Arkansas comes first."


For decades, the Arkansas Legislature focused on Arkansas issues. There were plenty of fights, but they were along lines far different than the Democratic-Republican battles in Washington, D.C.


In Little Rock, the battles might be along rural-urban lines or east Arkansas vs. west Arkansas lines.


Now, our state government is fully nationalized with a governor whose main goal is to get on Fox News and legislators who act as shills for out-of-state organizations. Much of the legislation introduced these days is nothing more than templates from such groups.


This was illustrated last week in an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette story on the annual financial disclosure report filed (late) by state Sen. Bart Hester out of northwest Arkansas, the empty vessel who poses as Senate president pro tempore and salutes when the governor's office sends down marching orders.


Hester reported receiving thousands of dollars in gifts, including lodging for conferences in Cancun and Toronto.


Something called the Alliance Defending Freedom paid for Hester to attend the conference in Cancun. The Alliance Defending Freedom is based in Arizona.


Here's what the less-than-articulate Hester told the Democrat-Gazette's Mike Wickline when he was asked what he did in Cancun: "There was meetings throughout the entire day where we listened to other states talk about what they have done, clearly mostly regarding social issues, and it was encouraging to me because almost every issue they were bringing up Arkansas was at the top or leading the pack in any of the issues that is considered a social issue today."


Huh?


It sounds like we best be prepared for more culture wars with our legislators carrying bills written by such out-of-state groups.


There also was something called the Senate Presidents Forum in Toronto. Hester said that event focused on affordable housing and was held in Canada because "it is not just a United States problem, it's a North America problem."


Whatever you say, senator.


Over on the House side, state Rep. Jon Eubanks of Paris also had his way paid for the meeting in Cancun. The National Conference for State Legislatures also helped pay for Eubanks to take part in a tour of Israel.


I suppose we're now doing foreign relations in the Arkansas Legislature.


"It was an opportunity of a lifetime," Eubanks told Wickline.


I bet.


Meanwhile, Arkansas taxpayers helped pick up the tab when Eubanks went to an NCSL event in Brazil.


Wickline wrote: "Eubanks said he met with state government officials in Brazil and learned how officials in Brazil function compared to officials in Arkansas."


Whatever you say, representative.


Clearly, Arkansas no longer comes first.

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