No other proposal has the potential to help Arkansas more than Issue 1--a proposed constitutional amendment for tort reform with overwhelming support of Arkansas legislators.
Your vote this November can grow jobs, improve access to quality, affordable health care, strengthen protection of our most vulnerable citizens, restore power to the people, and remove power from special interests who use it purely for profit.
Support for Issue 1 is backed by hardworking Arkansans, business owners and job creators, physicians and health-care advocates, civic leaders, and elected officials at state and local levels.
Issue 1 is our opportunity to enact meaningful tort reform. Once passed, it becomes a permanent part of our Constitution, protected from attacks by activist judges.
As an attorney, I've seen the negative consequences of our broken legal system. It hurts our businesses and communities. I co-sponsored Issue 1 to give people their voice.
Issue 1 relieves financial burdens from investors and job creators, making Arkansas competitive with neighboring states. It levels the playing field for economic development, attracting new industries to our state by protecting them and our small businesses and entrepreneurs from frivolous lawsuits.
When I served in the Army, I went on marches carrying a heavy rucksack. The added weight slowed me down. Other soldiers without rucksacks outpaced me.
Right now, Arkansas' economy is weighed down by the burden of the system. Every state bordering Arkansas has tort reform similar to Issue 1.
Issue 1 not only affects business. It's a matter of life and death for people with limited health-care access.
The system is denying people health care in Hampton, for example. Last year Janette Goolsby wrote about a local doctor retiring after 30 years in practice. His retirement leaves no physician in Hampton.
Imagine having to drive a sick family member or a dying child for miles to see a doctor.
Ambulance-chasing lawyers who push the cost of medical malpractice insurance higher often prevent health-care professionals from practicing in rural Arkansas. Most attorneys in Arkansas are honest professionals. Unfortunately, because of the unfairness built into our civil justice system, we are targets for predatory lawyers and out-of-state ambulance chasers who only care about themselves.
We basically pay a "lawsuit tax" because of the current system. This "lawsuit tax" is estimated to cost an average citizen $900 a year. It doesn't pay for roads or better schools. The money pays for beach houses and expensive toys for greedy lawyers.
The most painful cost is to our most vulnerable citizens. Hospitals are forced to stop providing services to those in need. The financial exposure from frivolous lawsuits puts our elderly veterans who need assisted living at risk of losing their homes.
It is troubling to see opponents of Issue 1 hijack the pro-life movement. Instead of focusing on protecting the unborn, some are letting trial lawyers manipulate them.
The advancements we have made for pro-life causes shouldn't be sold to lawyers who oppose protecting life.
An expectant mother in rural Arkansas is experiencing contractions early in her pregnancy. She is frightened for the health of her baby. Her fears are legitimate, knowing she may lose her child because emergency care is far away.
Arkansas' infant mortality rate is higher than the national average. The Health Department reports premature birth is a significant cause of infant mortality.
Premature births don't have to cause the death of a child. We know maternal and intensive care for premature newborns reduces death. We also know Arkansans' access to care in NICUs (neonatal intensive care units) is inconsistent. More health professionals improve the chances both mother and child survive a premature birth.
Issue 1 saves lives. There is nothing more pro-life than that.
We have judges in Arkansas who legislate from the bench. In 2015, we passed a bill allowing young victims of sexual assault to have a comfort dog while testifying. To most Arkansans providing comfort to an abused child is the right thing to do, but Judge Wendell Griffen said no. He ruled in favor of the sexual abusers over the child.
His ruling was made to maintain his power. This is unacceptable. A vote for Issue 1 restores power to you. It allows the people's elected officials to act as a check and balance against activist judges.
That's why I'm asking you to join me and many other Arkansans who support of Issue 1.
State Sen. Trent Garner represents District 27.
Editorial on 05/28/2018
Print Headline: For tort reform