No Limit Southland
This Tuesday the Legislature continued to relax regulation of Southland Park in West Memphis. Limits on both the hours and days on which greyhound racing may be held have been rescinded and the Racing Commission has been granted additional regulatory powers.
I asked two of the bill sponsors, Senator Keith Ingram of West Memphis and Representative Deborah Ferguson of West Memphis, about the removal of language prescribing hours and dates of operation. Both were wary of characterizing SB 330 as a precursor to unrestricted racing.
Senator Ingram unequivocally maintained that the hours and number of days of racing would not change, “Presently, if there is a mechanical problem and the races do not finish before midnight they are in technical violation. This allows the commission to deal with the violation rather than thru statute.”
Similarly Representative Ferguson asserted the intent of the bill was to account for technical problems, as well as to allow more flexibility in racing on Sundays and holidays. However, she did concede that although not the bill’s intent, it did open the door for a future Racing Commission to expand operations if they desired.
In effect this shift from statute regulation to Racing Commission powers has granted a degree of autonomy and flexibility to the racing schedule at Southland.
Electoral Daze II
On Monday I posted about the demise of (R) Allen Kerr’s bill to consolidate elections into a Spring and Fall Voting Day. It appears the declaration of death was premature. In one of this session’s only examples, the House moved to reconsider HB 1357. This time it passed. The bill garnered an additional 23 votes of which 20 were Democrats. The bill will get further judgment from a Senate that has been close, but unable to pass similar legislation. It’ll be interesting to see if Senate Democrats mirror the shift of their counterparts in the House.
Banter on the Floor
One thing that’s important to understand about the Arkansas Legislature is that they enjoy themselves. Here are some choice cuts from Tuesday’s session,
“Once upon a time I had an afro like this” Sen. Joyce Elliot referring to Jeopardy! Champ Leonard Cooper
Sen. Jake Files was prompted to tell a story about his affinity for tennis. Files responded, “My wife is enamored with Andy Roddick.” He then elaborated on having the flash on while taking a picture of Andy Roddick serving. Roddick turned around and said, “Come on now, I’m trying to make a living here.”
Sen. Ingram was audibly startled by the notion of “Senator Sample wearing tennis shorts.”
It is remarkable to note that despite this year’s major battles and tensions, the legislators genuinely seem to get along.