GOP Majority in Arkansas Could Alter Mike Beebe's Plans

by Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press  on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 2:25 pm  

Next week's election could shake up the last regular legislative session for Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe, who was re-elected in 2010 and is not on Tuesday's ballot.

So far, the grocery tax has been reduced from 6 percent to 1.5 percent. Beebe says further cuts are still his top priority.

"I'm not sure we're going to be able to afford anything with the Medicaid shortfall, but at least I've got a plan for the sales tax reduction on food," Beebe said.

Republicans say a grocery tax cut could still be part of the discussions.

"Personally I think the income tax should take priority over the grocery tax cut," said House Minority Leader Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs. "But that's not to say we can't do them both."

A Republican majority would also likely mean a push to change the state's election laws. Rep. Bryan King, who is running unopposed for the state Senate, said he'll try again for a requirement that voters show identification before casting a ballot. A voter ID measure last year passed the House but failed before a Senate committee.

Beebe hasn't said whether he'd oppose such a bill, but notes that state law already requires poll workers to ask voters for identification. Voters can still cast a ballot without showing ID.

The Legislature could also consider changes to some of Beebe's key initiatives. Sanders has said he wants to look at the parole system, possibly altering legislation Beebe championed last year that revamped sentencing laws to curb prison growth.

King, who has clashed with Beebe in the past on some issues, said heated campaigns for the Legislature could spill over into policy fights next year.

"It's going to be a challenge to come in after both sides have grown through a bloodbath campaign," he said.

Still, Lamoureux said he doesn't expect Republicans to be looking for fights if they win a majority.

"I think it will be a lot less conflict than some people have imagined," he said.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten, broadcast or distributed.) 



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