It's often said that we get the Legislature we deserve. Not this time.
Arkansas is a dramatically conservative state. Yet, when SB71, the bill to end government quotas, set-asides, and preferences, came to the floor of the Arkansas House of Representatives--after having successfully passed through the Senate's State Agencies Committee, the full Senate, and the House State Agencies Committee--many House Republicans found common cause with Democrats and voted to continue state-sanctioned discrimination. It was shameful.
The bill's Senate sponsor, conservative bulldog from Jonesboro Dan Sullivan, said, "I was surprised to see so many Republican members of the Arkansas House fail to stand firm on our constitutional principles. I was surprised to see those same members give more credence to the unsubstantiated claims of Democrats than to our Republican attorney general. I was surprised to see House Republicans intimidated by the obvious race-baiting tactics so typical of the left, and I am disappointed to see Arkansas fail to step up and be a national leader in ending state-sponsored carve outs, set asides, preferences, and DIE!" (Transposition in the DEI, the acronym for diversity, equity, and inclusion, is intentional.)
House opponents repeated the very falsehoods I discussed two weeks ago in detailing Central Arkansas Water's DEI-indoctrination complex. The public utility's DEI people sent an email to all employees presenting the following politburo-like disinformation: "Not only does SB71 promote white supremacy, but it also attacks all currently protected groups including all women, veterans and disabled Arkansans."
The bill didn't promote white supremacy. It banned state-sponsored racism. And the bill demonstrably had nothing to do with veterans or the disabled. Any legislator who says otherwise is incompetent at best.
You might be asking why a public water utility would send numerous emails on matters having nothing to do with water services in the first place--even if it wasn't the race-baiting untrue scare-mongering screed detailed above. So am I.
Sadly, however, I'm not surprised--as this is only one example of the omnipresent Red Guard seeking to maintain its publicly funded castles of leftist indoctrination and redistribution entrenched throughout the tentacles of government. So far, resistance has been futile.
If only House Republicans stepped up and did their job. A few did. (See below.)
Two weeks ago, I also told you that the public utility's CEO Tad Bohannon--a lawyer and MBA (which he obtained on the job in Great Britain, paid for by us)--hadn't publicly corrected his DEI department's dogma diktat. I said I'd check back.
I did. Bohannon still hasn't corrected them. I'll check back again.
And where has the water authority's motley public board (composed of a contractor, a political scientist, two lawyers, a customer-relations manager, a retired HR officer, and a former director of a council of local governments, but no practicing civil engineer) been during all this?
Maybe new leadership all around will be more responsive to the interests of the people paying for this public utility.
Similarly, only a handful of House Republicans represented the interests of Arkansans by standing up for equality, opposing state-sponsored discrimination, and supporting the most conservative legislation then in the House--SB71. These 27 stalwarts should be commended:
Brandon Achor (Maumelle), Sonia Eubanks Barker (Smackover), Rick Beck (Center Ridge), Mary Bentley (Perryville), Harlan Breaux (Holiday Island), Karilyn Brown (Sherwood), Matt Brown (Conway), Rebecca Burkes (Lowell), John Carr (Rogers), Hope Duke (Gravette), Kenneth Ferguson (Pine Bluff, D), Tony Furman (Benton), Justin Gonzalez (Okolona; House sponsor), Jack Ladyman (Jonesboro), Wayne Long (Bradford), Robin Lundstrum (Elm Springs), Mindy McAlindon (Centerton), Austin McCollum (Bentonville), Jon Milligan (Lake City), Jeremiah Moore (Clarendon), Chad Puryear (Hinesville), David Ray (Maumelle), R. Scott Richardson (Bentonville), Dwight Tosh (Jonesboro), Kendon Underwood (Cave Springs), Steve Unger (Springdale), and Richard Womack (Arkadelphia).
These House members voted to end the state's embrace of today's affirmative action and the DEI-indoctrination-architecture monster it spawned.
Let's make sure defecting Republicans learn that they have something to lose when not abiding by the core conservative principle reflected in the Arkansas Republican platform: "We believe all Americans should have equal opportunity to succeed regardless of race, nationality origin, gender, or creed and should be granted no special preferences based on these criteria."
If you don't see your state representative named here, he or she supported the left on this defining issue of identity politics.
Save this list for the primary elections a year away. When candidates send you their prêt-à-porter flyers--with their faces superimposed on the same threadbare mailers clogging your mailboxes during the last five primaries--declaring adherence to conservative values without any specifics, now you'll have a way to determine whether they're lying.
This is your right to know.
Robert Steinbuch, professor of law at the Bowen Law School, is a Fulbright Scholar and author of the treatise "The Arkansas Freedom of Information Act." His views do not necessarily reflect those of his employer.