Back Again


No one could accuse Thomas Mars, former head of the Arkansas State Police and former general counsel for Walmart, of being a “snowflake.”

It would be just as hard to accuse him of being particularly partisan. Early in his career, Mars worked for Asa Hutchinson when our governor was U.S. attorney, but he went on to work for Hillary Clinton at the Rose Law Firm. Later, Mars served as Gov. Mike Huckabee’s personal lawyer before becoming Huckabee’s choice to head the State Police. While at Walmart, Mars was made an executive vice president and chief administrative officer.

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Mars is, in other words, someone worth listening to. And Mars says the state of Arkansas will suffer economically because of the Legislature’s passage of restrictions on transgender youth. As readers of Transgender Laws Draw a Hot Spotlight by Assistant Editor Kyle Massey can see, Mars refuses to pull punches.

“This is blatantly discriminatory legislation, and it just screams at the rest of the country and the world that Arkansas, or at least its legislature, must be occupied by a large group of bigoted idiots.”

Lawmakers’ actions, Mars says, have pushed Arkansas backward by 15 or 20 years. That’s a direction we can ill afford to travel. After all, our economic developers already must be able to address the state’s “history of segregation, low rankings in education and pay, and hillbilly portrayal in popular culture,” as Massey’s story accurately notes.

And if you think that prospective workers and companies don’t pay attention to these things, you’re living in a fantasy.

Between 2000 and 2010, Arkansas’ population grew 9.1%. The latest Census figures, released last week, show that the state grew only 3.3% between 2010 and 2020, while the United States as a whole grew 7.4%. Don’t be surprised if the Legislature’s actions doom the state to even slower growth.