This session of the Arkansas Legislature has resulted in some of the most dangerous legislation to Arkansans in history. Yes, I said that: in the history of this State. It is the product of high paid lobbyists who work for Michael Morton, the nursing home owner from Fort Smith who is linked to the bribery of Judge Michael Maggio for reducing a jury’s verdict in return for campaign donations, the State Chamber of Commerce, along with WalMart, Tyson, and a host of special fat cat corporate interests.
The legislation is sometimes bizarre, but most often mean-spirited and greedy. Examples of these bills are one to remove any requirements for any profession or occupation to have a license or certification or training, so that anyone can be a brain surgeon, an electrician, a contractor, an optometrist, as long as they don’t “advertise” that they are one; a bill to create a private cause of action against private and governmental whistleblowers who report fraud and misuse of taxpayer dollars; a bill to exempt nursing homes from safety requirements; a bill to hide the records of city, state and county government actions. And one of the bizarre bills is one that makes is a criminal offense to request any kind of “assistance” after dark. What does that mean? Your 17-year-old daughter has a flat at night on the highway and she can be arrested for “loitering” if she asks for help?
The most egregious, however, is Senate Joint Resolution 8 (SJR8) by Missy Irvin of Mountain Home, and Trent Garner of El Dorado, also sponsored by House Representative Bob Ballinger of Hindsville. It changes the 1876 Arkansas Constitution section which preserves the right to a jury trial, which is described in our Constitution as an “inviolate” right by putting (1) a cap on the value of life. Yes, on the value of life. Limited to $500,000. Yours, your spouses’, your children’s, your parents’ lives. (2) It caps damages for those who don’t have jobs. (3) It destroys the judiciary branch of our government by transferring the authority of the Supreme Court to promulgate rules of law on the trial of cases, to the Legislature, which then can create its own rules. (4) It destroys your access to justice by capping what average people can pay a lawyer to represent them when they are hurt or they die as a result of someone else’s negligence. It does not limit what Walmart or Tyson, or Michael Morton can pay its lawyers to represent them when they hurt or kill someone through their negligence. There is no limit there. So, they can pay their lawyers any amount of money to defeat righteous claims, while you get to fight back with one hand tied behind your back, if you can find a lawyer to fight for you at all.
It is nothing more than basic socialism when the gains are privatized, and the losses are socialized, because the insurance companies will receive the financial benefit for not being held accountable for their wrongs, and the damages, medical care, loss of jobs and the income of the citizens who are injured or killed are foisted on the society and us as taxpayers to absorb through Medicaid, free care for those who have no insurance, and then those costs are passed on to the rest of us.
In other words, we subsidize the bad actors. We subsidize the irresponsible, undesirable companies who come into this State because they’ve found out that the Legislature has opened up our borders by lowering the price for bad actors to pay. If a company can calculate the cost-benefit ratio of killing someone because of a defective product or defective and negligent action, as opposed to the cost of fixing the defect or the negligent action, then it will go to the bottom line every time. And, if it costs less to kill people, and SJR8 caps that cost at $500,000, then they will do that instead of fixing the problem. And, just keep on killing people.
So, stop this craziness and madness. Vote NO to SJR8 in November of 2018. Tell Senators Missy Irvine and Trent Garner, and Rep Bob Ballinger that you are going to hold them responsible for this, and that they will NOT be reelected, and tell the other sponsors and legislators who voted for this horribly wrong Amendment to our Arkansas Constitution that they are not going to go back to the Arkansas Legislature and continue to represent our interests, because they do not.