More than a month into the regular session, Arkansas lawmakers are winnowing their choices for referred constitutional amendments and still tackling the implementation of a voter-approved medical marijuana measure and the final budget.
Rep. Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville, and Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, discussed these issues on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics. Irvin said that voter ID is a “common sense” issue that should be part of the state’s constitution, while Leding said it’s a “solution in search of a problem.”
“Some of the best research shows that in-person voter fraud just doesn’t happen. There was a study back in 2014 that looked at over a billion ballots cast in the U.S. over a 14-year period and they found 31 credible cases of in-person voter fraud. It’s just gotta be one of the dumbest ways to sway the outcome of an election,” Leding said.
Irvin disagreed, “I think it’s just common sense that you should be able to identify who you are with an identification of all different kinds that are accepted to be able to cast that ballot and to vote for the people that you wanna vote for. So, to me, it’s just common sense, really, at the end of the day, and I think it’s appropriate. And we wanna have a fair election system. We wanna make sure that it maintains that fairness.”
Lawmakers are considering a proposal to refer to voters an amendment to make identification part of the election process. Another likely amendment referral centers around tort reform, which Irvin is a primary sponsor.
“It’s something that the state has been working on since 2000. [In] 2003, we had legislation on this policy and this issue; it was wiped away by the courts. This is a restoration of being able to put that policy back in place to make sure that Arkansas is competitive with all the states around us that have done exactly the same approach in lawsuit reform. It’s good for the state of Arkansas. We’ve got to be able to compete for industries that will grow jobs,” Irvin said.
“There are absolutely arguments for tort reform and I do think we need to try and find the right way to do it, but the key is finding a right way to do it so that we don’t hurt people, we actually prevent frivolous lawsuits, and that we allow the judicial branch to do its job as an independent and equal branch of government,” said Leding in reference to a provision in the proposal that allows the legislature some oversight of judicial rule making.
“It’s the legislative branch’s job and responsibility to set policy, and I think this restores that power back to the legislative branch of government. It follows the federal government and how they proceed on this, as well as 16 different states have the exact same parameters in place as to what is being presented in this tort reform amendment,” she said.
“We have three equal branches of government, and they need to be independent and be able to do their job,” said Leding.
In the video below, watch more of Irvin’s and Leding’s conversation, including their perspectives on tax cuts, budget adjustments, curtailing medical marijuana and the last week of the Trump administration.