State lawmakers met briefly this morning to formally adjourn the legislature, making for a quiet end to an otherwise action packed legislative session.
Lawmakers approved over $100 million in tax cuts, passed a plan to provide $125 million in state incentives for a steel mill which promises to bring over 500 high paying jobs to eastern Arkansas and passed a plan that will provide private health insurance for a roughly 250,000 low income Arkansans who aren’t already insured. Lawmakers also approved social issue legislation further restricting abortions and letting colleges decide whether to allow permitted faculty and staff to carry concealed weapons on campus.
However, the wrap up of all that was overshadowed by the morning announcement by House Speaker Davy Carter that he would not be running for Governor.
“I had many long discussions with my wife and my parents and my inlaws and my family and, you know, I’ve got a 13 year old, an eight year old, a seven year old,” Carter told reporters of why he opted not to run.
Carter spoke of his decision at a lunchtime meeting of the Political Animals Club in Little Rock.
He is term limited and was seen as a likely candidate with bipartisan appeal. Carter made news earlier in the week when he said the Republican Party in the state would need to move beyond the social issues that dominated the first half of the legislative session in order to effectively lead the state.
“I think that’s got to be part of the ongoing dialogue and debate within the party and maybe I can be a part of that somehow over the coming months and years,” Carter said.
He says he won’t be running for office this coming election but isn’t ruling out future races. “I know I want to try to stay involved, I don’t know how, but I’m a young guy and you never know where life will lead you,” he said.
During his speech to the Political Animals Carter said the state should look at reworking its current term limit structure and he made the case for open primary elections as ways to improve upon the state legislature. He also touted the three issues of the legislative session he thought were most important.
“We took up three – what I would call – monumental, watershed issues: health care, tax reform and certainly the super project,” Carter said during his lunchtime comments.