Jason Rapert Skips Biggest Vote of Session

by Michael Cook ([email protected]) 114 views 

No matter where you stand on the Medicaid private option debate, we can all agree that it’s one of the most defining votes of this session. Literally hundreds of millions of dollars are involved and the lives of roughly 250,000 Arkansans will be directly affected one way or another with the final decision.

Today the Senate discussed the legislation needed to implement the Medicaid private option and it ultimately passed 24-9, with two Senators not voting.

One of the Senators who didn’t vote on this major issue was Senator Jason Rapert. Rapert’s 2012 Democratic opponent, Linda Tyler, called him out via Twitter for missing this crucial vote by noting that he took a walk on the vote.

Rapert took issue with this characterization and replied via Twitter: “I was with Mr. Eric Treat from Conway at meeting for developmentally disabled persons – simply off the floor.”

I’m sure the meeting with Mr. Treat was important, there are dozens of meetings a day during a legislative session. But it strikes me as awfully convenient that during the one of the most important votes of this entire session, Senator Rapert chose not to have his vote counted.

During the exact moment of the Senate vote was the only time Mr. Treat and others could meet? Did Rapert have no idea that the private option vote was today?

I call baloney on this one. Rapert chose to take a walk on this vote.

Any person/group meeting with a busy State Senator would have absolutely no problem with him/her slipping away from a meeting for 10 minutes or so to vote on a such an important issue. Also, most people or groups have no problem working around a busy legislator’s schedule because they understand how hectic a legislative session is.

Moreover, I suspect all developmentally disabled Arkansans care deeply about health care and many may be involved in the current Medicaid debate. I’m sure the people Rapert met with today had an opinion one way or another on the private option discussion. Many may have wanted him to actually vote one way or another on this issue.

But Rapert skipped the Medicaid private option vote.

I believe what really happened was Rapert was trying to protect his political viability for higher office and chose to skip the private option vote.

Rapert likely didn’t want to vote for it because it would be problematic in a Republican primary for Lt. Governor, an office Rapert is supposedly considering running for in 2014. And Rapert didn’t want to vote no since it could be used against him in a General Election since he showed he denied health care to 250,000 working Arkansans who couldn’t afford it.

No matter what was discussed at his other meeting, Rapert could have made time to head to the Senate Chamber to cast his vote. Rapert simply chose not to do so.

Whatever is the exact opposite of a Profile in Courage award should be given to Rapert for skipping today’s vote.