Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities begins with these famous words, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness . . .”
But Dickens’s immortal words come in handy today.
Arkansas is experiencing a tale of two Houses. You see there is a very big difference between Arkansas’s two legislative chambers. The House, where term limits went into effect in 1998, is more than half freshmen lawmakers. The Senate is still home to crusty old politicians. After the House finished this year’s session, their work was praised even by many who were originally skeptical of the Legislature’s ability to handle the massive turnover from term limits.
The worries turned out to be unfounded. It was a model session. The Senate had more experience in how government works, but that turned out not to be a good thing. Federal prosecutors issued 133 felony indictments against several powerful long-serving Senators in the most sweeping corruption prosecution in Arkansas history.
These senators knew the system, all right well enough to steal more than $1.3 million from Arkansas taxpayers. The so-called “experienced” legislators have a pretty sorry record. But Arkansas’ Senate gets a fresh start when term limits hit next year.
Then, paraphrasing Dickens, “It will be a far, far better legislature than they have ever known.”
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.