I don’t often agree with this group called “Secure Arkansas.” As far as I can tell, it grew out of the tea party movement and voices opinions on proposed legislation and other matters of political interest around the state
In early February, Secure Arkansas had come out in strong opposition to House Bill 1376. That bill, among other things, took power away from justices of the peace to levy fines on people convicted of dog killings in the JP court.
Actually, the bill is just sort of a clean-up thing that should have been done a long time ago, even before I was a registered voter.
Amendment 55 passed in the mid-1970s and reorganized county government quite a bit. Prior to Amendment 55, justices of the peace were actually considered judges and could hold court in their districts on some matters. There were also a lot of them in the county, and the way I understand it, the Quorum Court met once a year to approve the county budget and JPs went on their merry ways.
The amendment turned the Quorum Court into a legislative body, taking away from JPs the power of a judge, and limiting the number of JPs to a maximum of 15 in each county.
For the record, the bill passed the Senate with absolutely no opposition and almost unanimously in the House, with only 11 representatives not voting at all and one voting “present.”
This was a no-brainer, but Secure Arkansas opposed it because it took away local control, even though Amendment 55 took away that local control about 40 years ago.
But Secure Arkansas and I see eye-to-eye on another issue, which is Senate Bill 299 and would require a water system to ask customers if they want fluoride in their water or not and do so at an election.
In 2011, the legislature passed Act 197 that required fluoridation of water in systems serving more than 5,000 customers. Secure Arkansas and other groups opposed it on health reasons, claiming fluoride creates calamities up to and including, as I recall, brain disease and causing children to be born naked.
Since then, some water systems have been fighting fluoridation for health and financial reasons. One such lawsuit is still winding its way through the system.
While I don’t believe the hype around the health concerns, I would support allowing water customers to choose if they want fluoridation or not at a popular vote.
Now, SB299 was still in a Senate committee as of Thursday. If the committee doesn’t allow it to move forward, there’s not a chance it can be voted on by the full Senate.
Of all things the Ledge has been taking up this session, this particular bill seems to make the most sense, which is why it probably won’t make it through the committee.