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From the speaker’s mouth

State Rep. Dan Greenberg, R-Little Rock, notes in a blog post that House Speaker Robbie Wills, D-Conway, is claiming an answer he gave to an Arkansas News Bureau reporter in a recent interview was incorrectly paraphrased.

The interview was about Wills’ announcement this week that the House’s information office will transition from a purely informational office into an office that advocates for House members. For the record, here is the way the reporter paraphrased his question and Wills’ answer:

“Asked if the office’s new role as an advocate for the Democrat-controlled House would mean advocating Democratic positions, Wills said the office would advocate the objectives of the House leadership.”

And here is the actual exchange, taken verbatim from a recording of the interview:

Arkansas News Bureau: “Since the House is Democrat-controlled, does that mean it (the communications office) will be advocating a Democratic point of view?”

Wills: “No, not necessarily. It’s going to advocate the objectives of the leadership of the House of Representatives. That’s, I think, consistent with what you’ll find with communications offices all around the country. We have a particular point of view as opposed to the executive and judicial branch, and we feel like our communications office should help us communicate that point of view.”

Arkansas News Bureau: “So if, say, another issue like the tobacco tax came up, this agency would be working to advocate for passage of the cigarette tax?”

Wills: “If it’s a leadership initiative, taken on by the leadership of the House of Representatives, that’s an appropriate function for the communications office.”

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Tea party organizers plan another event

The organizers of the April 15 “tea parties” around the state say they will hold another event Monday from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at Little Rock’s River Market Amphitheater to promote fiscal responsibility in government.

Speakers are scheduled to include state Rep. Dan Greenberg, R-Little Rock, and Dave Elswick, program director and on-air host of radio station KARN.

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Third-party bill fails again

For the second time, a House panel has rejected a proposal to lower the threshold for a political party to maintain its status as certified party in Arkansas.

The House Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs today voted down House Bill 1247 by Rep. Richard Carroll of North Little Rock, the Legislature’s first Green Party member. The bill would allow a party to retain certification if it received 3 percent of the total votes cast in either of the two most recent general elections in the race for any statewide constitutional office, U.S. senator or president.

Parties currently have to receive 3 percent of the votes cast in the most recent governor’s election to retain certification.

The bill, which the committee previously rejected on March 11, failed in an 8-11 vote.

Mariah Hatta, executive director of the Democratic Party of Arkansas, testified against the bill.

“Changing the rules in the middle of the game is unfair,” she said.

Rep. Dan Greenberg, R-Little Rock, said he wondered “when the game ends, so at that point we’ll be allowed to look at our election laws.”

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Hail to the chief

A House panel has advanced a resolution calling for the House to take a day off whenever a president is inaugurated, regardless of the president’s political affiliation.

The House Rules Committee today endorsed House Resolution 1008 by Rep. Dan Greenberg, R-Little Rock. Greenberg filed the resolution after the House took a day off for President Obama’s inauguration, though it did not take time off for either of President George W. Bush’s two inaugurations.

The House was in recess for the inauguration of Bill Clinton, Greenberg noted last month.

Rep. Kathy Webb, D-Little Rock, a co-sponsor, presented the resolution to the committee. The resolution advances to the full House.

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No love for interior designers board

The House approved numerous appropriations bills for state boards and commissions today but rejected one bill after Rep. Dan Greenberg, R-Little Rock, urged a “no” vote.

House Bill 1066, to appropriate $10,635 to the state Board of Registered Interior Designers, was defeated in a 60-30 vote, falling short of the three-fourths majority vote needed to pass an appropriations bill.

Greenberg said the board does nothing that cannot be done more cheaply and efficiently by the private sector. He cited a study that found that problems with interior designers are no worse in states where the industry is unregulated than in states where it is regulated.

“I understand why we have a sex offender registry, but there is no reason to have an interior designer registry,” Greenberg said.

Rep. Bruce Maloch, D-Magnolia, said the money would come from fees the board collects, not from taxpayers.

Greenberg said consumers would save $10,000-$15,000 a year if the board did not exist. He said he plans to file legislation to dissolve the board.

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