There will be disagreements, maybe fights, maybe bad blood, in the coming weeks. For the Ledge is in session in the state of Arkansas. And there are any number of arguments to come. But perhaps all that can wait a little while longer.
For the good of the state, and the health of its residents, the executive branch and legislative branch in Little Rock should agree on one thing, at least: This covid-19 thing is the real deal, and we're all in this, yes, emergency together.
The governor, always reasonable, called on lawmakers to affirm his declaration of a public health emergency by Feb. 27--giving the Ledge plenty of time to debate this really non-debatable fact.
If anybody doubts the emergency, we'd refer them to emergency rooms in the many hospitals of our state. Or simply wave down somebody in scrubs getting coffee at the convenience store before heading to the double shift at the ICU. They'll tell you all about it, if they have a minute.
Things have calmed into more of a fact-based reality since the summer, when there were doubts about the real world. But Gov. Asa Hutchinson gave his State of the State speech this week in the House of Representatives chamber, while state senators watched on a television monitor in their chamber. There was reason for this social distancing. And lawmakers know.
"Now, it is not the time to withdraw from the battle," our news reporters quoted the governor saying. "We must not be faint of heart, but we must keep fighting and not call for retreat as some would advocate."
Maybe that should be put in the past tense. As some have advocated. Or at least let's hope so. For the day the governor gave his speech, the number of new coronavirus cases went up by more than 3,200. And that was down nearly 1,000 from the previous Tuesday.
Just before the new year, the governor extended his own emergency declaration for the pandemic for another two months. According to our Capitol Bureau reporters, that keeps the emergency rules in place until Feb. 27: "Prior to that date, you need to act," the governor told lawmakers.
The emergency declaration keeps in place things like educational waivers, telemedicine, immunity liability for businesses (!) and health workers, among other things.
The news side interviewed several lawmakers for the story, and we didn't detect much opposition to the emergency declaration. Or at least not much unfriendly opposition. Some comments were along the lines of: We'll sit down and talk it out. Which is fine. They have until the end of February to get both branches aligned.
But aligned they must be. And the emergency rules must be continued. The second phase of vaccine inoculations won't start until next week.
Come April, we hope to see baseball in person again. And movies again. And festivals again. And arm-waving, combative, all-American debate about government's role in emergencies again.
But until the spring, and a safe remove from this pandemic, let's be careful. And friendly. And continue to live under these emergency rules.