Things got heated on the senate floor on Tuesday 2/9 when SCR6 was brought to the well. You might be wondering what the fuss is all about, since resolutions hold very little weight. This particular resolution, which Sen. Jim Hendren, R-Gravette, called “the worst resolution I’ve seen,” blatantly used Black history to further divide our state legislature.
The air in the chamber thinned when Sen. Stubblefield, R-Branch, co-sponsor of the resolution, began reading it in its entirety. Keep in mind that this resolution was 11 pages long and riddled with inaccuracies. Sen. Keith Ingram, D-West Memphis, called out one of these false statements during questions.
“Would you be nervous since we’ve heard from the sponsors that our Bureau has vetted this… yet if I read this it says that President Kennedy in 1960 didn’t sign an executive order,” he said. “I think that would come as a shock to historians since President Kennedy didn’t take office until 1961.”
On top of the falsehoods outlined in the resolution, Sen. Linda Chesterfield, D-Little Rock, briefly mentioned that the political parties have shifted over the years, but there was absolutely no mention of this in the “Commemorate American History” resolution. Instead, line after line, it attacks Democrats, furthering the divide that we should be working together to fix.
Sen. Stephanie Flowers, D-Pine Bluff, felt passionate about defeating this resolution, going into great detail about her ancestry and calling for reparations for Black Americans. “Don’t just do it for the hell of it… if you really want to do something, talk about reparations, she said. “Would you agree reparations are in order for black communities?”
Sen. Stubblefield lacked an adequate response, pushing past Sen. Flower’s call for reparations and saying “I would agree that there’s been a great evil done in this country… and I hope it never happens again.”
The behavior, comments, and overall effort to pass this terrible resolution speaks volumes about some of our legislator’s priorities. Several senators noted this resolution was wasting precious time in the chamber, calling for the debate to end so that they could move onto more pressing matters.
Where did this resolution come from? Turns out Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Jonesboro, sponsor, and Sen. Stubblefield copied some bad homework from South Dakota, where that state also received a rightful pushback for running the resolution. The South Dakota resolution subsequently failed on January 8th with a vote of 4 Yeas and 65 Neys- fitting considering SCR6 was voted down January 9th, with a vote of 4 Yeas, 22 Neys, and 9 members not voting or voting present.
This is the type of behavior we are calling out – Sen. Sullivan, Stubblefield, Garner, and Ballinger all voted yes on this resolution full of falsehoods. Do Arkansans want this type of leadership, or lack thereof? No, because what we saw in the Senate was an attempt to further damage our democracy.